Any type of software goes through blips in the development phase where glitches and bugs have to be worked out. It’s the name of the game, and with the rapidly evolving landscape of programming languages, staying on top of that game has never been more important. But it’s also crucial to realize that software bugs, when they sneak through the testing phase, can really bite.
And man, can they bite hard.
Here are just a few examples of some of the things that can happen when software bugs bite – but by no means is this post exhaustive. Everything from major stock messes to losses of human life have resulted from a piece of buggy software.
The Wrong People Could Go to Prison
It’s a total nightmare scenario: all of a sudden, you’re arrested for a crime you didn’t commit. Except the police records show that you did commit the crime. All of their information has you pegged. Even the legal documents tell one story – you’re guilty. The story is a lie, of course, but there’s no way of convincing the justice system otherwise.
Unfortunately, this tale is completely true, and it happened when Australia rolled out a nearly $55 million software system to electronically file legal documents. The problem was, the software had a staggering 3,600 errors that caused huge problems. The wrongful arrests of almost two dozen people certainly made the software’s price tag seem pretty unreasonable.
The Prisoners Could Walk Free
How about another nightmare scenario, this one submitted for your consideration in the Twilight Zone of software bugs. In a near-reversal of the first story, an entire maximum security wing of a Florida prison had all of its cell doors unlocked, as if by magic. Only it wasn’t magic – it was a bit of messy coding. a software bug that left hundreds of doors open so that some of the state’s most dangerous inmates could walk free. Thankfully, a security emergency was declared and the situation was controlled.
Then it happened again. The same week.
This situation was also controlled, which almost beggars belief. But it’s impossible not to wonder what might have happened if even a few of those prisoners had gotten free…
A (Virtual) Epidemic Could Kill Thousands (of Avatars)
Popular shows like The Walking Dead make certain types of epidemics (see: zombie outbreaks) seem kind of, you know, fun. Of course in real life, epidemics aren’t fun. The Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918 killed 5% of the world’s population, after all. Then there’s the virtual epidemic, and if you’re a gamer, you’ll know that it’s no laughing matter.
Hardcore World of Warcraft fans were shocked when an epidemic swept through the game, a software bug that left the virtual streets lined with bodies of the slain. Unbeknownst to living characters, they were carriers of the virus. Might seem trivial, but the effect was so realistic that scientists used the case to study the actual propogation of epidemics.
Software Bugs Can Really Bite.
As detailed in the below infographic from the folks at RankPop, software bugs can be hugely problematic. So when programming a new bit of software, remember to keep a sharp eye out for the bugs. Squash them in development so they don’t cause problems down the road. The truth is, they can get really nasty.
Source: Top Software Bugs Infographic