Historic lethal software bugsMikey 2 comments
As technology becomes more reliant on software, there is always and increased possibility of failure due to poor programming or improper testing.
In some cases these bugs are found early and patched before anything serious happens, but if history has taught us anything it has shown these bugs can be costly or in some cases, fatal.
Let's take a moment to learn from some of history's lesser known software bugs and their consequences.
Guam, 1997: a bug in a ground-based altitude warning system of a Korean Passenger Aircraft contributed to the deaths of 228 people.
European Space Agency, 1996: the first test flight of the Ariane 5 Expandable Launch system failed due to a software malfunction. 37 seconds after launch and the rocket veered off course and was torn apart by aerodynamic forces caused by excess change of attitude commanded by the on-board computer. The bug cost $US370 million.
1985 to 1987: a software bug in a radiation therapy device in use at several medical facilities administers dangerously high radiation doses. 5 people die and several others are seriously injured.
1999, Mars Polar Lander: the probe was obliterated on impact after its final descent to the planet. It is believed a software bug shut the engines off only 100 feet above the Martian surface. This error cost US$165 million.
November 2000, National Cancer Institute: therapy planning software calculates the wrong dosage for patients undergoing radiation treatment. The bug leads to the deaths of 8 people, 20 are permanently injured. Even though the software is supposed to do the calculations, the physicians were legally required to double check manually. They did not, and all are indicted for murder.