The Art of Tetman Callis Politics & Law Making every vote count

Making every vote count

“During a local election in Belgium in 2003, a single scrambled bit of information, almost certainly caused by an errant [subatomic solar wind or cosmic ray] particle, added 4,096 votes to one candidate’s tally. Since this gave an impossibly high total, the mistake was easily spotted. But had the particle hit a different part of the circuit it might have added a smaller number of votes—enough to change the outcome without anyone noticing. Moreover, as the components from which computer chips are built continue to shrink, they become more sensitive, making the problem worse. A modern computer might expect somewhere between a hundred and a thousand space-drizzle-induced errors per billion transistors per billion hours of operation. That sounds low. But modern chips have tens of billions of transistors, and modern data centers have millions of chips—so the numbers quickly add up.” – “Tales of Wonder,” The Economist, February 25th, 2017

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