Tuesday, February 22, 2005

More Over-Reliance on "Calculative Thinking" of Technology

Building on this discussion of the dangers with our reliance on the calculative thinking of technology over human reason, Techdirt finds another example courtesy of the Denver police:
They're blaming a computer glitch for not helping them connect a series of rapes to a known serial rapist. Apparently, they were relying on an FBI contractor to move their data to another computer system (the FBI having computers problems? what a surprise) which resulted in some sort of computer glitch. Because of that, they were unable to identify DNA samples that would have pointed them to the rapist in question prior to him committing at least one more rape.
This reminds me of some research I did for one of my advisors, Prof. Alex Galloway. We were interested in how the "failure" was being redefined as the result of computer bugs or system failures, rather than human factors. We amassed a list of over 4,000 instances of computer bugs/failures, mostly compiled from Peter Neuman's work and the RISKS digest.

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