Technology Isn't Mistake-Proof

As much as I love technology, there are downsides to innovation. And some of them occur in places you least expect them, until they happen. Take, for example, what happens when the software that drives our computers, cars, mobile phones and medical devices goes bad in an instant, unexpectedly and without warning. That's the gist of this interesting Wired piece on the 10 worst software bugs of all time. At least, for right now...

Two of the "top" 10 bugs on the Wired list were on the side of medicine -- involving radiation therapy -- just a reminder those kinds of mistakes can often be the fatal ones.

In one case, faulty software created by a programmer with no formal training caused a radiation therapy device to emit dangerous doses of radiation at several medical facilities, eventually killing at least five patients.

In the most recent incident five years ago, software again calculated the proper dosage of radiation given to patients in Panama. That, coupled with physicians who tried to do short cuts, resulted in eight deaths, 20 patients receiving overdoses causing serious health problems and murder indictments.

When it comes to your health, the best way to sidestep the tech bugs and the human errors that are bound to creep up is to take responsibility for it by following these proven guidelines:

Wired News November 8, 2005

Wired News November 11, 2005

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