The butterfly effect

The outages Delta and Southwest airlines experienced with their computer systems are endemic of a larger problem – technology. We are now so reliant on technology, that a small glitch can lead to global backups. It may not actually be the glitch that is the problem, but the follow-on effects. This manifested itself a decade earlier in the Northeast Blackout of 2003, where 55 million people were without power for between 1-3 days. Glitches can also be caused by physical effects, such as storms, and volcanos. Case in point, the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. The resulting ash cloud disrupted air travel in northwest Europe for six days – 95,000 cancelled flights. Cancelled flights means that other industries suffer, for example companies like BMW suspending operations in German plants due to the interruption in the supply of parts. Also spoilage concerns as air freight of pharmaceutical and fruit/vegetables is also affected.

Ultimately we may be too reliant on technology.

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