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Computer Reliability

The Engine

While computer reliability wasn’t a major topic of the movie, the broader issue of technology reliability was very important to the climax of the movie. At the end of the movie it is revealed that children are used as a way of replacing broken parts of the engine after the actual replacement parts “go extinct.” The decaying engine puts Wilford in an unfortunate situation morally, in order to keep the train going and preserve the lives of the last remnants of humanity children must be subjected to a horrible life of backbreaking dangerous labor in cramped crawlspaces. Wilford makes the decision that survival is important above all else, and uses the tail-ender children, who are seen as less important, to keep the train running. This ends up being the final straw that makes Curtis overthrow the entire structure of the train. This could have potentially been avoided if the train parts were made more reliable or made to be replaced more easily. However, it might be unreasonable to expect any mechanical system to last forever and it would be all but impossible to manufacture the needed replacement parts on the train.


The doors which were used to separate the members of the train were able to be hacked, though it was somewhat implied that this was an intentional flaw. If it was an intentional flaw, then what is the responsibility of the engineers who designed the door? The product specification directly called for a product that will lead to a loss of life. According to the software code of ethics, the designers of the door should have objected to the decision and if the company insisted on a flawed design then they should have refused to produce the product.


CW7 was a terraforming agent aimed to stop global warming. But eventually it went wrong and caused a massive ice age that nearly wiped out humanity. The mis-compute or misuse of CW7 should be considered as a compute reliability problem. The technology clearly wasn’t tested thoroughly enough to find the flaws, and was not tested proportionate to the potential impact of failure. A climate control device with such catastrophic potential should not have been deployed without being rigorously tested. CW7 is the reason why the ice era has started. The scientist should consider more before they released CW7.