Just about everyone knows that software glitches can be a nuisance, which is why precision in programming is absolutely essential. While most software bugs may fall into that "nuisance" category, however, software bugs can cause some alarming issues for business owners, web properties, and even whole governments. Consider this: according to a recent Cambridge University study, software bugs cost the economy more than $300 billion anually.
That's a "b," not an "m." $300 billion. Remember the European Union bailouts? Those cost less than half of what software bugs cost in a single year. Food for thought, for sure. And even though individual software glitches might seem like a laughing matter, the fact is, the aggregate of software bugs worldwide are a huge problem. Consider a couple examples.
Manage Your Money
Shoddy coding and testing are often the reason for software bugs, but research has demonstrated clearly that it's more cost-effective in the long term to spend the money to get it right. Speaking of money - who doesn't love some free cash? In 2011, some folks down under won the proverbial jackpot when they came across an ATM that was spitting out free money. Due to a software bug, the machine didn't recognize the actual account balances of the customers showing up for withdrawals. Wait, did we say an ATM? We actually meant 40 ATMs across the city of Sydney, Australia. Consider that this bug lasted for five hours, and imagine the mess it created.
Not to belabor the point, but again - wouldn't that money have been better spent ensuring that automatic teller machines didn't spit out free cash as if by magic?
Glorious Freedom: A Jail Tale
You do the crime, you pay the time. It's a clever little rhyme used in convenience stores and road signs all over the English-speaking world. Of course, sometimes software glitches can get in the way of this little truism. Earlier this very year, a software bug caused prison cell doors to be opened in a Florida jail. Not just a few cells, either: the glitch affected hundreds. It's also worth mentioning that the cells in question were in the prison's maximum security wing, where some of the most dangerous prisoners in the state were invariably kept.
The issue was fixed right away, naturally. At least it seemed like it was until it happened a second time in the same week.
Fortunately, this story has a happy ending (for the prison and the public, not necessarily for the inmates), as the prison declared a security emergency and not a single prisoner escaped. Nevertheless, to think about the damage such a bug could have caused will invariably make just about anyone's palms sweat.
And the Take-Home Point Is...
Look, software glitches can be a minor nuisance, but they can also have absolutely disastrous results. Most won't fall into the "fool me once" category of a potential prison-break as outlined above, but with the myriad systems in modern life that depend on solid programming for safety and asset management, glitches are a huge deal.
These aren't the only software bugs that'll make you double-check your programming. Check out the infographic below for some other insane glitches that caused huge trouble!
Source: Qualitest Group
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