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The Millennium Bug The millennial sun will first rise over human civilization in the independent republic of Kirbati a group of thirty low lying coral islands in the Pacific Ocean Kirbati straddles the equator and the International Dateline halfway between Hawaii and Australia For those who live in a world that relies on satellites air rail and ground transportation manufacturing plants electricity heat telephone or TV when the calendar clicks 99 to 00 we will experience a true millennial shift Peterson As the sun moves westward on January 1 2000 and the date shifts silently within millions of computerized systems we will begin to experience our computer dependent world in a new way At the stroke of midnight the new millennium heralds the greatest challenge to modern society that we have yet to face as a planetary community Whether we experience this as chaos or social transformation will be influenced by what we do immediately What is theY2K Year 2000 problem When computer systems were built in the 1960s and 1970s computer hardware was too expensive To reduce costs programmers looked for ways to reduce data storage requirements It was common for year to be stored in databases in two digit fields rather than four digits Why is this a problem now The systems built during this period were not very user friendly but the computers were most critical to business operations Because these systems of the 1960s and 1970s were not designed to run in multiple centuries most will either produce incorrect information or simply fail at the end of the century It may not sound like much effort to fix these machines but in fact it involves a great deal of time and expense The Gartner Group a respected information technology researcher estimates that it will cost as much as 600 billion worldwide If the problem is not addressed in time the consequences could be catastrophic There is currently widespread awareness
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