Oops! Sorry, world! 9

Catastrophe. Cataclysm.

Have billions of lives been devastated and millions of people reduced to poverty by a computer software error? 

Thomas D. Williams writes at Breitbart:

The UK’s coronavirus lockdown was caused by “the most devastating software mistake of all time, in terms of economic costs and lives lost,” according to a report by a British newspaper.

The essay is referring to computer modeling by Neil Ferguson and his team at Imperial College London that predicted enormous deaths in the UK and elsewhere and led to draconian lockdown measures.

The Imperial College team published a 20‐​page report on March 16 forecasting that an uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 could cause as many as 510,000 deaths in Britain and as many as 2.2 million deaths in the United States.

The predictions, which were considerably wide of the mark were the result of radically deficient modelling, according to a report in British newspaper The Daily Telegraph by software developers David Richards and Konstantin Boudnik

Imperial’s unreliable microsimulation model moved policymakers to “mothball our multi-trillion pound economy and plunge millions of people into poverty and hardship,” the authors note.

The simulation code was so bad, the writers insist, that they “would fire anyone for developing code like this and any business that relied on it to produce software for sale would likely go bust.”

Imperial’s model “is vulnerable to producing wildly different and conflicting outputs based on the same initial set of parameters,” they state. “Run it on different computers and you would likely get different results. In other words, it is non-deterministic.”

In their contention that the Imperial model was “fundamentally unreliable”, the authors question why the government did not get a second opinion before radically altering the lives of millions of citizens.

The writers register their suspicion that “the [British] Government saw what was happening in Italy with its overwhelmed hospitals and panicked.”

Did the Ferguson team’s wildly wrong computer modeling also influence the US federal government’s decision to quarantine the entire population, causing businesses to close, many perhaps permanently, and impoverishing millions?

It seems that it did.

Can even the Midas touch of President Trump restore the lost wealth of America? Is there a doctor or magician who can resurrect the late economy?