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The Y2K problem is the electronic equivalent of the El Nio and there will be nasty surprises around the globe--John Hamre Dep Secretary of Defense When I was in the first grade my elementary school invested in several computers and started Introduction to Computers classes I remember playing math games and drawing with art programs in awe of and slightly intimidated by the beastly piece of technology in front of me I had little idea of how it worked and even less of an idea of what was in store Over the years the technological world has advanced rapidly and humans have come to rely on computers for just about every aspect of daily life--from education to communication to banking to electricity we depend on technology The Y2K bug seems to be a vicious reminder that our technology is just a tangled connection of imperfect haphazard systems we have come to let run our lives The Year 2000 or Y2K problem is caused by a shortcut imbedded into many computers and microchips In the 1960s to conserve what was then precious and expensive memory space computer programmers shortened the four-digit year to use a much more economical two-digit method--for example 78 would mean 1978 Unfortunately computers and microchips that still use a two-number year will recognize 00 as the year 1900 not as 2000 When using data involving dates the problem will cause failures in arithmetic and can corrupt databases with incorrect information These types of calculations are necessary in systems involving administrative information scheduling and billing A statement issued by the Presidents Council on the Year 2000 Conversion states This Y2K bug could cause computers to either shut down or generate incorrect data In our electronic information-dependent society that could be a big problem At the time the two-digit year was first used in computer programming no one addressed or was prepared for a problem when the year
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