Re: [SystemSafety] a discursion stimulated by recent discussions of alleged safety-critical software faults in automobile software

From: Steve Tockey < >
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2013 19:49:06 +0000

Martyn wrote:
"But a man can dream and, if such a set of circumstances were ever to arise, why would I care whether the bad software did actually cause the accident?"

I, for one, would care if the damage of said accident happened to *me*...

My concern is that it's the sorry state of software development practices that leads to these safety vulnerabilities (and the vast majority of those other irritating defects) in the first place. As I've said before, the practices needed to develop safety/mission critical software can--for the most part--deliver high quality software at lower cost and shorter schedule than 'standard practice'. These problems are a direct result of the sloppy, immature, UNPROFESSIONAL approach that most dev groups take. Doing the job right is not only easier, it's better, faster, and cheaper. But, as we say in the US, 'it's like trying to push a rope uphill'. Day-to-day amateur practitioners aren't going to care about doing a good job until some obvious, high-profile disaster can be pinned directly on the crappy level of standard practice.

Cheers,

-----Original Message-----
From: Martyn Thomas <martyn_at_xxxxxx Date: Monday, November 11, 2013 6:39 AM
To: "systemsafety_at_xxxxxx <systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Subject: [SystemSafety] a discursion stimulated by recent discussions of alleged safety-critical software faults in automobile software

(I'm writing this in England. We don't have a constitution that guarantees freedom-of-expression. Indeed, we have become a favourite destination for libel tourists. )

Let's suppose that in a purely fictional sequence of events, a manufacturer that develops and sells safety-related consumer products installs some very badly written software in one of their products: software that could lead to injury or death. Let's further suppose that an accident happens that, when investigated, turns out to be of the sort that the bad software could have caused.

Let's speculate that n this fictional case, the manufacturer suffers serious penalties and as a result vows to write much better software in future, changes their development methods, significantly reduces the likelihood of safety-related errors in their future products, and (by acting as a warning to others of the consequences) influences other companies to make similar improvements.

That would be a lot of good things that resulted from the discovery of the badly-written software and most or all of them might not have happened if the bad software had been discovered without an accident and a finding of liability.

Of course, this is fiction and the good outcomes described above are hypothetical.

But a man can dream and, if such a set of circumstances were ever to arise, why would I care whether the bad software did actually cause the accident?

Martyn



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