'Computer says no' – when software goes wrong - RSA

'Computer says no' – when software goes wrong

Fellowship events

 -  | Eastern Standard Time

11am-12pm PT / 2pm - 3pm ET

  • Technology

Join the Augmented Society Network for an exploration into the intriguing world of software failures. We'll delve into the infamous failures that have shaped industries, share personal encounters with frustrating software errors, and examine the hacking and coding mishaps that have led to unexpected outcomes. This event offers a unique opportunity to unravel the mysteries behind these digital conundrums and gain insights from experts in the field. Come deepen your understanding of software development and its pitfalls with us.

There are many incidents where software has failed catastrophically. From the NASA Mariner 1 spacecraft in 1962 to the UK Post Office Horizon software scandal that is still ongoing today. Not to mention the Mt. Gox Bitcoin hack in 2011 that bankrupted the company, and the less disruptive but very expensive Y2K Millennium bug in 2000. There are many  examples of software errors that have resulted in unexpected or devastating consequences on people, governments, buildings, systems and more. Most are human error, most are due to complex and badly implemented software, and a lack of testing before going live. In 2004 the UK Child Support Agency launched new software that had problems from day one, an internal memo noted the system – “was badly designed, badly tested and badly implemented” and had “over 1000 reported problems, of which 400 had no known work around”.

There is barely a day that goes by without the need to interact with multiple computer systems, we are 100% reliant on software, and not all of it is working well, none of it, we hazard to guess, is completely bug free. We are very much thinking about self-driving cars, auto navigation systems, think Baltimore Bridge and the devastating Boeing 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019.

In this session we explore what went wrong, what pressures were brought to bear to get projects finished, and the ways in which we can bring best practice to our own software systems and projects. It really is time to raise awareness about the fact that these software systems are written by us, human beings who may be overworked, tired, underpaid or just not properly trained to do what we have been tasked to do.

Taking part in RSA online events

For our interactive online events, the RSA uses the platform Zoom. We have found it simple for participants to use while also providing the necessary functionality for an engaging online event.

To participate in the event, you will need to register for a ticket to receive the bespoke link to join. You will be sent detailed instructions via email closer to the event. Attendees will need to register for a free Zoom account and download their software. To understand more about how Zoom uses your data, please read their privacy policy in advance.

We record many of our online events. By attending this online event you accept that you may appear in a RSA video as a participant. Our intention is to use any recording of this event for learning purposes and to document the content of the discussion. Currently we do not have plans to share this recording publicly, but may do so in the future.

If you have any questions, or to let us know of any access requirements or reasonable adjustments you require, please email: [email protected].

By registering for this event you consent to receiving communications about this event, both before and after, and you agree to the sharing of your name, organisation & title with the Fellow(s) and/or partner organisation(s) hosting this event. Attendees also agree to the sharing of your name and organisation with other delegates at the event so that they might contact you through MyRSA. If you do not wish this information to be shared, please let us know by emailing: [email protected].

The information you provide when registering for an event will be retained by the RSA and will be used to record attendance at the event. To understand more about how the RSA uses your data, please see our privacy policy.

The Augmented Society Network is an RSA US Thematic Network founded in 2019 by two RSA Fellows with a passion for humankind. The network meets to discuss the impact technology is having on society and will continue to have in the coming weeks, decades and centuries. To learn more about the Augmented Society Network, go to https://www.augmentedsociety.org/.

Photo attribution: The original image is the work of Markus Spiske.

Other upcoming events you can attend as an RSA Fellow

  • The CLEAN green bash

    The Lillington Club, CV32 7DA

    You’re invited to an afternoon and evening of activities in partnership with Low Carbon Warwickshire Network.

  • Understanding RSA Fellowship


    Our Fellowship is diverse and constantly evolving – if you are committed to a future that works for everyone, you could be a Fellow. Attend this to understand how Fellowship could work for you.

  • RSA coffeehouse ‘on the road’ - transcending hybrid working

    The Priory Rooms Meeting and Conference Centre, B4 6AF

    Join us for an exciting in-person Coffee House Conversation where we will learn from future of work expert and author Gwen Stirling-Wilkie.