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Looking back at Y2K (Alternative titles: ’Y2K: a retrospective view’ and ’Head-to-head:looking back at Y2K’)

Finkelstein, A. ORCID: 0000-0003-2167-9844 (2000). Looking back at Y2K (Alternative titles: ’Y2K: a retrospective view’ and ’Head-to-head:looking back at Y2K’). Computing and Control Engineering, 11(4), pp. 156-157. doi: 10.1049/cce:20000402


It is now well known that the widely predicted catastrophic consequences of Y2K did not occur. Itis also clear that estimates of the nature and severity of the problem were wildly exaggerated.The UK in particular appears to have been subject to an unwarranted public panic. This has, Ibelieve, damaged the credibility of the profession. Though many wilder prophets of doom wouldnot be considered to be engineering professionals, we failed to clearly and effectively countertheir claims.While it would be fun to repeat the more ludicrous of the predictions and hold those responsibleup to ridicule this serves very little purpose. It is much more interesting to reflect on how andwhy the hype and panic spiralled out of control, as a basis for ensuring that such a problem neveroccurs again.This commentary is divided into 5 parts: a discussion of the reactions to Y2K post-January 1st;some comments on the changing reactions to Y2K in the period immediately leading up toJanuary 1st; some popular millennium myths; an analysis of why different parties to the Y2Kpanic acted as they did; and, some suggestions for the future. The commentary is largely polemical.I am concerned that, as soon as possible, the issues discussed receive scientific attention and thatthe analysis which was so lacking in the Y2K lead-up is undertaken.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: ©2000 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or to reuse any copyrighted component of this work in other works must be obtained from the IEEE.
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Departments: Presidents's Portfolio
SWORD Depositor:
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