Newswire's Y2k Domino Engine : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

This is most interesting!


Bobbi +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ "It's fun to do the impossible" ---Walt Disney--- +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Y2k? Got water? Got Beans?

-- Bobbi (, December 04, 1998


just took it...answered questions very came up with 98.9% chance of total collapse. I am not sure about the scientific validity of the calulations. But the answer it gave is totally shocking.

-- a (a@a.a), December 05, 1998.

The math and logic seem valid. I feel what is missing is how long the effects of Y2k will last. If it is only a couple of weeks without power or phones then it will not be 'The collapse of Western Civilization' that they claim is inevitable. I think it all depends on how quickly power is restored across N. America. After that everything else can be sorted out with time.

-- Derrick Steiner (, December 05, 1998.

eeegad! I've entered values between 0 and 15, and calculations totaled at 74.8% chance of total collapse! The numbers I entered for each sector were deliberatly low, the lowest I dared entering by stretching my optimism to its limit without feeling like a total foolish ostrich.

But..I don't understand how laws of probabilities play a role in the actual reality of how things are or will play out, so therefore this number is wrong and don't mean anything. There. I can go to bed and sleep soundly now.

-- Chris (, December 05, 1998.

Just took it - 100%!

-- Rob Michaels (, December 05, 1998.

The probability calculator is intended to (and does) illustrate one major point: we live in a highly interconnected world.

I like the idea of letting us plug in our own guesses.......and then sitting stunned when we see what can happen. It is a simple way of getting us -- and a lot of people who ignore the interconnectedness of us all -- to face up to the 'ripple' effect or the 'domino' effect.

When this one, and the results get printed out and circulated more than a few people will be horrified....and preparations will kick up one more notch.

I got beans, what'll you trade?

-- rocky (, December 05, 1998.

I ran thru it and used 1% in most blocks and 0% in some and came back with a probability of 15 or so percent chance of collapse. Now before everyone on this discussion group brands me a pollyanna let me explain something. The questions are asking for percents of chance for certain industries to completely fail. This does not allow for partial failure (reduced effectiveness) total failure for 1 to several weeks followed by reduced effectiveness. If one thinks that in some of these industries that is likely then you have to assign a lower probability of total failure. A good example was the question of coal mining equiptment not being compliant causing failure of the coal industry. Most mining equiptment is mechanical-hydraulic and any computer control could probably be bypassed by a competent mechanic in a few weeks. Reworked equiptment probably would not function as well and overall productivity would be reduced. But you do not get complete failure. Another example could be produced but you get the idea. Now back to that 15% chance of total collapse. If you knew that a local crazy had planted a bomb in one car on your block and you had a 1 chance in 8 that when you turned the key in your car that it would blow up would you just go out and start it? Otherwise your going be late to work. Well would you? Or are you going to take some precautions? Look under the car? Well have you taken any precautions? Where will you get clean water if the power goes off? How will you keep warm? How will you feed youself and family if there is no power and you have no job? A one in 8 chance is not worth taking with your life!


-- LM (, December 05, 1998.

Sorry about that all running together I thought that I had paragraph breaks in it.


-- LM (, December 05, 1998.

LM is essentially correct here.

-- humptydumpty (, December 05, 1998.

Ahhh, should have looked further down before I asked my question....scared the beejeebers out of me!!!

-- More Dinty Moore (Not @this, December 05, 1998.

Since I first looked through this site something's been nagging at me. "Something's wrong here," I kept thinking. But what?

Like others, I ran through the smallest possible numbers, setting my estimates for all items first at 1%, then, successively, at 2%, 3%, 4%, and 5%. The calculated probabilities of collapse corresponding to these estimates, in order, are 15.7%, 29.1%, 40.4%, 50.0%, and 58.2%. This seems extraordinarily excessive!

Today I think I see the flaw here. Note that the input parameters are for failure. But this is unqualified failure. This "failure" is implicitly taken to be FINAL.

We've all experienced failures -- your furnace breaks down on a winter night, your car runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere, your shoelace breaks on the dance floor-- whatever. But "failures" are not necessarily permanent. Assuming that premanence is an enormous and unjustified logical leap.

It's comicstrip fiction to think that in any of the "failures" this Doomsday engine postulates, everyone involved will simply stand around wringing their hands. Somebody will get to work to find out what failed and make it work again.

Some efforts won't succeed, but others will. Some will take longer than others, possibly much longer. Obviously some service interruptions are likely. Some, possibly many, of these interruptions will be severe, or long-lasting, or both. The cumulative impacts very likely will be severe, but not necessarily so in all locations, not necessarily so in all systems.

No conceivable estimate can specify, quantify or take into account all the myriad unknowns in this situation. Which tells me that this "Doomsday Calculator" is a most imperfect engine.

Therefore -- I've decided not to beam myself up to the first comet in the neighborhood.... (that's a joke, guys...)

It's still possible to conceive of TEOTWAWKI -- but this calculator can't be used to support that notion.

-- Tom Carey (, December 05, 1998. guys make a lot of sense...

-- More Dinty Moore (Not @this, December 06, 1998.

I'm siding with Tom Carey, this is snake-oil! (And note that I am a card-carrying gloom-and-doomer!)

-- Jack (, December 06, 1998.

hmm...I don't know Tom. Lets say I enter all low numbers like 1's and 2's representing my belief those numbers DO represent total failures, on each of the systems mentioned in the engine. Doesn't the total represent the effect of the interconnectedness of all those probable 1's and 2's, the domino effect, thus making that number a probable high one of like say 30%? Does it really matter what the number is, 10% or 90% in terms of making preparations? Would you prepare less, if this engine was proven factual and the number 10% came up, or prepare more if 90% came up? It wouldn't make a difference to me. Except that I'd be more scared in direct corelation with the total percentage.

So I entered all 0's, and I feel cool and relaxed now.

-- Chris (, December 06, 1998.

The Domino Engine does not account for the special effects of ingenious and challenged humans that find the oddest ways around seemingly impossible "odds."


-- Diane J. Squire (, December 06, 1998.

Chris -- you write, ...Lets say I enter all low numbers like 1's and 2's representing my belief those numbers DO represent total failures...

OK. That's your belief. But ask yourself, how does your belief relate to actuality?

Unless you're in a very privileged position, you're in the same boat as the rest of us. That is, you have no concrete data to work with, only suppositions based on statements by other people, all of whom also have only their own extrapolations from what they know or assume --- and are limited by sizeable gaps in their own knowledge.

Does the word "belief even have a meaning here?

I've always liked this exchange in Shakespeare's Henry IV (Act 3, Scene 1) (Yes, I had to look it up!):

GLENDOWER: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

HOTSPUR: Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?

Diane's point, that ingenious and challenged humans can always come up with surprises, is another most important factor, completely ignored in the "Domino Effect" algorithm. Creativity can't be caught in a formula. Creativity can't be stifled.

This isn't pollyanna-ismo, it's just a fact about humans. As of now, it sure looks like we'll have no shortage of severe disruptions, ranging from mild to catastrophic. This is not a belief, it's just my reading of the tea leaves. I'm only saying that the Domino engine is not a valid predictor for the outcome.

-- Tom Carey (, December 07, 1998.

To: Those inclined to assign significance to the output of y2knewswire's domino effect calculator

Though the domino effect will certainly be a significant factor in potential Y2K disruptions, please keep in mind that you are using a special-purpose computer whose programming is not open to you.

Assignment: Compose an essay on parallels between the Y2K computer problems and potential flaws in y2knewswire's domino effect calculator. Possible comparisons might include:

(a) absence of certification that the computer in each case would produce the desired output - in the Y2K case, for operational dates in 2000 or later, in the domino effect case, for current predictions of effects in 2000 or later

(b) programmers' "blind spots" in each case

(c) consequences of users' reliance on the output's being correct, when in fact it is incorrect, in each case

-- No Spam Please (, December 07, 1998.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ