Many people say that a disaster of unprecedented proportions faces mankind on January 1st, 2000.
Some say this is God’s plan to destroy civilization and prepare for the second coming of Christ. Others say that we must give up our political freedom in order to address the impending catastrophe.
At the same time, many scientists and computer experts assert the problems will be relatively minor and easily addressed.
Numerous media commentators and analysts say they don’t know the answers. This is the famous “Y2K” problem. This page contains resources to help you reach your own conclusions.
What is the Y2K Problem?
Computer systems are expected to have certain problems beginning in January 2000 and in the months preceding and following. What are these problems? There are several.
Some programs and databases store only the last two digits of a year. Of these, some perform calculations based on the assumption that the first two digits must be “19”. These computations will be wrong whenever the first two digits should actually be “20”.
Errors of this sort have already happened; for example a prison computer recently released inmates prematurely because it mistakenly computed their sentence to run through year “01”, a number which then appeared to be in the past. Such errors, if uncorrected, would become more common as the year 2000 approaches because more computations will involve periods containing second millennium dates.
Some of the programs and databases just mentioned eliminate the leading digits of dates by subtracting “1900”. These will not fail in the same way, though some of these will have problems when the result of subtraction produces three digits rather than two, or beginning October 10, 2000 when the total digits exceed six.
The sequence “99” is used in some programs not as a number but as a signal of special conditions, such as “missing data”. These programs, if uncorrected, could fail when computing dates in the year 1999.
Some programs fail to compute 2000 as a leap year.
Some calculations work only within a limited range of dates, for example 1903 through 2023. This is not specifically a Y2K problem, though this kind of error is often cited in conjunction with actual Y2K errors.
Taken altogether, this constellation of programming bugs related to the turn of the Millennium is called “The Y2K Problem.”
That there will be errors and that they will have consequences is not debated. After all, nearly all significant programs have errors in them. (We have been living with such errors and their consequences since programming began.) What is debated is how widespread the errors will be, what proportion of them will be corrected before the programs fail, how focused the failures will be on New Year’s Day, 2000 and how serious will be the effects. That is the debate you will find in the resources linked below.
How to Use these Links
My advice on reading the information is to look for the evidence: Do the authors present facts or suppositions? Do the conclusions follow from the facts or from flights of fantasy? Which comes first, the facts or the evaluation? Does an author reach judgments based on what he does know, or speculations based on what he does not know? If conclusions are warranted by the facts, are the proper judgments drawn or does an author avoid the responsibility of judgment? What conclusions would you draw from the evidence you have?
- The problem is minor Argues that the effects of the Y2K problem will be minor and localized.
- A Christian approach to Y2K Contends that Armageddon is upon us.
- An Inquiry Into The Veracity of “Millennium Bug” Doomsday Predictions A detailed analysis of the claims and claimants of Millenial Catastrophe.
- Global Warming — A Scientific Analysis Compare the claims and evidence for a Y2K disaster to those of another popular hobgoblin: Global Warming.
- Y2K-related stocks A listing of companies selling services to help detect and correct any Y2K problems.
- Gary North’s Y2K site Gary North is a prolific Christian author of such books as Unconditional surrender : God’s program for victory. In the late 1970s he predicted imminent massive inflation and social collapse in America. As things turned out, inflation became almost non-existent, and prosperity reached record levels.
- Ed Yourdon’s Y2K Disaster site. Ed Yourdon has written on computer matters for decades, and is famous for such predictions as his claim a decade ago that American programmers would soon all lose their jobs to foreigners. Exactly the opposite happened.
- Analysis of Yourdon’s claims A power-grid systems engineer evaluates Yourdon’s claims in the area of electrical power systems, and finds the logic flawed.
- Year 2000 Recession? Ed Yardeni, Chief Economist and a Managing Director of Deutsche Bank Securities (North America), predicts a recession and calls for a socialist international super-government to dictate economic planning.
- A Website for Catholics and Y2K “the leading website for Catholics who are concerned about the Year 2000 computer problem.”
- Year 2000 Computer Bug Hoax A skeptical approach to claims of year 2000 troubles. This self-described skeptic is certain it is all just a “capitalist plot.”
- Yahoo Year 2000 Page
Latest posts by Andrew Layman (see all)
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