15 March, 2011


Can we build 100% failure proof nuclear power plants ?

Can we predict the next earthquake ? Given our ability to measure an earthquake, can we predict the scale of damage ?

Do we have "models" that accurately forecast when the next financial crisis will hit ? Which country will be most impacted ?

If the US Federal Reserve injects $1 Trillion dollars into the economy, by how many percentage points will employment improve in 1 year ?

Have we determined when Al Qaeda will next strike ?

I am bewildered by the supreme arrogance of the human race. On the scale of planet Earth, an earthquake is as much as a sneeze. A city is as small as an ant.

And we haven't have begun to understand the impact the sun and the universe have on our lives.

We can make "best efforts" plans and practices to minimise loss. We cannot guarantee that every plane we build we fly without fault till it is scrapped. We can conduct routine and extraordinary maintenance. But we will not always capture component failure / fatigue or human error -- whether it is an aeroplane or a software package.

As rational human beings, we build redundancies. We take data backups. We test and stress-test new systems and infrastructure. We test Disaster Recovery.

But we are not prepared for disaster. Just as an individual is not prepared for his own death or that of a close family member.

We must acknowledge that each of us will die one day. That there will be wars. That there will be epidemics.

The Roman and British Empires did end. Probability will catch up with a nuclear power plant operating for 40 years.

Stoicism and courage is what the human race needs. Not arrogance about building failsafe and finding faults with engineers, administrators and politicians who have to face the unexpected.

Expect the unexpected. Don't criticise others who couldn't prevent a nuclear explosion. Don't prevent those who couldn't prevent the terrorist strike.

Live each day doing your duty but knowing that someone somewhere is dying with every breath you take.

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