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Summary and Comments

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1997-08-12 10:05:03


Why the U.S. Is Trapped



Capers Jones' authoritative report on "The Global Impact of the Year 2000 Software Problem" has noted that about 80% of all code is located outside the United States.

I draw an obvious conclusion that Mr. Jones did not draw: no matter what the programmers in the United States do, they cannot save the world's economy. It's too late.

It is widely recognized that organizations in the United States are way ahead of the rest of the world in its y2k repair -- that is, doing just barely more than nothing. But because of the interconnection problem, every computer that is 2000-compliant in 2000 will be threatened by data sent into it by noncompliant computers.

The overwhelming majority of the world's mainframe computers are located outside the U.S. So, only one thing can save our computers from a "foreign invasion": a collapse of the international telephone system which makes communications across borders possible.

This is not only possible, it is likely, according to the chairman of Britain's Telecoms Managers Association (July, 1997) He warned of a problem in noncompliant switching equipment. [This moves the discussion from computer problems in telephone billing to actual engineering -- the heart of the system.] "Unless it [the Department of Trade] gets suppliers to address the issue immediately, telecoms and equipment could stop functioning on 1 January [2000]. This could mean that we won't be able to make any calls outside the UK." (See the July 22 posting under the category, "Domino Effect.")

But if the international phone system goes down, and the computers cannot communicate, then international banking and trade will collapse. This is not cheery news.


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