Computer Power and Human Limits: Learning from IT and Telecommunication Disasters

William H. Dutton, Donald MacKenzie, Stuart Shapiro and Malcolm Peltu (1995), 'Computer Power and Human Limits: Learning from IT and Telecommunications Disasters'. PICT Policy Research Paper No. 33 (Uxbridge: Programme on Information and Communication Technologies, Economic and Social Research Counc

69 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2018 Last revised: 30 Apr 2018

See all articles by William H. Dutton

William H. Dutton

Michigan State University - Quello Center

Donald MacKenzie

University of Edinburgh - School of Social and Political Science

Stuart Shapiro

MITRE Corporation

Malcolm Peltu

Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: March 16, 1995

Abstract

Failures of Information Technology (IT) and telecommunications systems can kill, cause much human distress and waste vast sums of money. Successful systems can save and enhance lives and increase personal and national prosperity. The immense opportunities opened by technological advances are driving the application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) into almost all areas of modern society, while the systems to support this all-pervasive spread are becoming increasingly complex and interconnected to cope with the virtually insatiable demands on them. This also means the risks of ever more disastrous consequences from system failures are growing.

Understanding these risks and the causes of ICT system failures is therefore vital to everyone involved in their management, use, development and implementation. The PICT Forum on which this paper is based sought to aid this understanding by exploring the multi-faceted organizational, social, business and technical processes which contribute to the effectiveness and safety of ICT systems. Particular attention was paid to identifying the lessons that can be learnt from past disasters as a means of helping to anticipate and minimize the impacts of potential future failures.

The paper summarizes discussions among the business management, IT, telecommunications and risk management professionals and researchers attending the Forum. It reflects their wide range of expertise and experiences, which contributed to discussions that were rick with practical insights and well-informed opinions on how to resolve key issues.

Keywords: disaster, information, technology, IT, computer, telecommunications

Suggested Citation

Dutton, William H. and MacKenzie, Donald and Shapiro, Stuart and Peltu, Malcolm, Computer Power and Human Limits: Learning from IT and Telecommunication Disasters (March 16, 1995). William H. Dutton, Donald MacKenzie, Stuart Shapiro and Malcolm Peltu (1995), 'Computer Power and Human Limits: Learning from IT and Telecommunications Disasters'. PICT Policy Research Paper No. 33 (Uxbridge: Programme on Information and Communication Technologies, Economic and Social Research Counc. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3103433

William H. Dutton (Contact Author)

Michigan State University - Quello Center ( email )

406 Communication Arts Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212
United States

HOME PAGE: http://quello.msu.edu

Donald MacKenzie

University of Edinburgh - School of Social and Political Science ( email )

Adam Ferguson Building
Edinburgh EH8 9LL
United Kingdom
+44 131 6508380 (Phone)
+44 131 6503989 (Fax)

Stuart Shapiro

MITRE Corporation ( email )

202 Burlington Road
Bedford, MA 01730
United States

Malcolm Peltu

Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St Giles
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

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