A Black Thursday For Computer Systems

Last week, computer gremlins struck at both democracy and capitalism

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For about 20 minutes on Friday, stock exchanges in New York reported improbable—and in one case impossible—prices, revaluing companies from zero dollars to trillions. Transactions are being rolled back and profits taken away from traders who successfully navigated the pricing Scyllas and Charybdises—a desperate and almost unprecedented maneuver.

It wasn't the only big computer glitch last week as already much-maligned e-voting systems drew another black mark after a seriously flawed election in the Philippines. Yet the very same week, officials in the UK called for increased electronic voting, after an unexpectedly large turnout generated long queues that kept polling stations open late.

Podcast host Steven Cherry talks with risk management consultant Bob Charette about our increasing dependence on big computer systems.