Software is everywhere – especially in cars

Amazing article in NY Times talks about how software is taking over everything, even our cars!  We can’t see this software and it’s been exposed to hacking (Jeep being driven off the road by remote hacker) and manipulations of emissions tests at Volkswagen.  People in the article argue cogently that this code should be made open-source so that we can examine it and know what we are buying as consumers.  At the very least, it should go through some of the strict reviews and audits that airplane software goes through.  Congress and the federal government should act before something bigger happens than the two examples above forces them to.


A Historic Bug

The recent “bug” that afflicted the BATS trading system will probably be one for the ages and go along with other famous bugs like the Ariane 5 rocket and Y2K problem.  Of course BATS is calling it a “freak one-time event”, but this bug caused massive losses of money.  Fortunately there was no loss of life, but past bugs have caused this  like the Therac-25 radiation therapy bug.

I am a huge advocate for Software Engineering and the growth of this profession.  When I study the growth of similar professions, such as Civil Engineering, the government did not get involved and create certifications like the PE until there were massive loss of life due to bridges crumbling.  It is unfortunate that a similar type of software bug will cause the public to take notice of the pervasive influence of software in our society and needs to be recognized as a profession in its own right.  There have been close calls like the Toyota brakes problem which had a lot of software in it, but was ultimately the software was not found to be at fault.  Here’s to hoping that the government and public don’t wait to recognize Software Engineering as a profession.