Capers Jones is the author of a widely quoted and widely respected report on the size of the Year 2000 repair task. I have never seen a single criticism of the scientific quality of his reports.
This fact lends considerable weight to a recent summary of his predictions. It appeared in PC WORLD ONLINE (March 9).
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If the best companies around right now are having trouble fixing normal everyday software bugs, why should they have any better luck with Y2K? The average software development firm gets rid of only 85 percent of bugs, and that percentage should hold true when eradicating Y2K bugs, according to Capers Jones, chairman of Software Productivity Research. . . .
Keeping that in mind, Jones has handicapped the impact of Y2K issues on two dozen or so major areas of concern, ranging from liability insurance problems to food shortages. He gives himself a wide margin of error, but his probabilities seem to be in the right order.
Jones says there's a 70 percent chance that erroneous bad credit reports will appear due to the Y2K errors. He also predicts with 40 percent certainty that there will be a massive loss of electric power, a 20 percent chance of a stock market crash, a 7 percent chance that we'll have water rationing and a 1 percent chance that someone will die. Don't shrug off that 1 percent--it's a heck of a lot better odds than winning the lottery. Oh, by the way, Jones predicts with 55 percent certainty there will be litigation against corporate officers. . . .
Jones also points out that there's a big chance that there will be bad "fixes" that could be worse than the bugs themselves. With a shortage of IT skills out there, the possibility increases that errors will be injected into the solution.