Bit Flip, Awesome Radio Lab Podcast


So this is a very interesting podcast about the effects of a bit flip in a computer on everyday life. The podcast starts by explaining what a bit flip is and giving a real world example around electronic polling. Then it get into how common this issue is and being able to spot energized particles through making a cloud chamber. And the episode finishes with some of the worst case examples of major accidents and incidents that happened because of a bit flip. Such a good podcast, how you all enjoy!

Didn’t listen to whole podcast - typical TLDR
Well known problem in critical apps of sftwr / hrdwr.
Why planes have triple redundancy of separate independent systems and polling of results.
Why servers that are up long term have ECC mem.
Will be interesting to see how those who are developing / pushing “autonomous” vehicles will handle this.

Found this statement interesting:
“If you do the math, all the silicon area devoted to memory (DRAM, caches, registers) adds up, and what you’ve got is essentially particle detector.”

For those of us in the IT/Computer Science world/business we know that autonomy is very hard. Most everyone else does, too I suspect.

As evidenced by how long it took the first autonomous vehicle to have an accident.

All software has “bugs” and most hardware does, too. The truth is all of the mechanical controls in aircraft and cars have “bugs” also, its just that we’ve become accustomed to them. (Why else would they have auto repair facilities?) Art’s right though, most aircraft have redundant systems as well as fail safe controls to “get on the ground”. Single points of failure are a guarantee of failure. Aircraft are more redundant but not immune from failure as evidenced by the Boeing 737 max.

If bugs weren’t a big enough problem there are “hackers” who enjoy causing harm through malicious changes to software “of all kinds.” Years ago I was on a CERT committee, because I was the manager of an Operating Systems group at Convex Computer, and there were many attempts to “hack” operating systems every day.
(This was the 80s, too) I even got notice of how to hack an old answering machine to make calls outbound on someone else’s machine. The hope was that we, the manufacturer, could remedy the hacks before they became widespread.

The bottom line for me is I think it will be a while before I even consider riding in an autonomous aircraft or automobile. I don’t even like to ride trains that are autonomous. I got stuck on one at an airport some years back. Great idea, but there are still too many risks for me.

Is it already possible to hack a car over the wireless or ONStar system? I’m sure it is.

There was a well publicized case of a Jeep being hijacked that way several years ago.

LOL, the path to off topic on this post is funny. Art gave it a go, but quit early and then researched separately, but nailed most points. Dan seemingly jumped out and started praising his history in IT. Then, Bill jumped the shark to a whole new topic. You guys make me laugh.

That is definitely an interesting statement.

Enjoy your chuckles.
Not the first time youv’e done this.
Your (posts) credibility went down a few notches…

Typical response take offense to nothing and make an accusatory statement. Try lightening up in the future. Not everyone is laughing at you. Just enjoying how quickly a post can go from this topic is cool, to I can’t be bothered, to look at me, to squirrel.

Art, there are a LOT of people at the space who are not in depth scholars of electronics and the surrounding science. Just because you had heard of this phenomenon, it might be very interesting and educational for the other groups who were totally unaware of this phenomenon, and I find it surprising that you are so dismissive of this.

I had listened to this podcast before it was posted here, and found it interesting and new to me, and am sure several other members would as well.

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