No Warranty Express or Implied: Why Do We Have So Many Problems With the Computer Systems That Pervade Our Lives?
John W. Coffey
Computer systems, large and small, are everywhere. From the 100+ electronic control units in a modern car to mobile devices, to tablets and desktop computers, to petabyte databases that are mined for information, computers pervade our lives. When any factor in our lives becomes so pervasive, a range of problems will certainly follow ranging from basic frustration and inconvenience, to lost productivity, to losses due to using the devices apart from problems with the devices themselves, to loss of life. This article explores the unique role of computers in our lives from the perspective of their complexity, limits on our ability to ensure that systems are built without errors, tradeoffs inherent in the design of computer systems, and measures that can be taken to address these problems.