The evolution of the millennium bug.

P. R. Hiesinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


How could mankind, knowing the year 2000 would inevitably arrive, manoeuvre into worldwide technical problems because of a little computer bug? Two major parallels can be drawn to biological systems, and both are based on evolutionary principles. First, any new steps in development are founded on building blocks invented earlier. Basic building blocks are hardly changed anymore because further developments depend on their function. Second, imperfections of such building blocks are irrelevant as long as no corresponding selection pressure exists. If a time-coded computer bug occurs sufficiently early during technological development it can become part of innumerous hard-wired or soft-coded programs and devices without ever attracting attention. However, the arrival of a certain data can instantly put a high selection pressure upon it. This behaviour can be understood as a direct consequence of the autonomous dynamics that the development of complex systems implicates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-174
Number of pages6
JournalRivista di biologia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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