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Y2K Bug Blamed For Miscalculated Down Syndrome Risk

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the when-numbers-lie dept.

Bug 273

Albanach writes: "The BBC are reporting in this story that the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, England is blaming the Millennium Bug for getting wrong 150 tests for Down Syndrome with four mothers going on to give birth to affected children." The article actually idicates that four women were pregnant with Down Syndrome babies, and that two of them brought the pregnancies to term.

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w00t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2293922)

frist psot

remember wtc.

Re:w00t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294124)

Remember the Maine!

Re:w00t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294148)

Remember the Alamo!

Got a flat tire today, (-1, Offtopic)

L-Wave (515413) | more than 13 years ago | (#2293923)

got a flat tire today...I think its cause of the y2k bug or El Nino or something.

It's the arabs (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2293949)

Bin Laden is to blame. Let's nuke Afghanistan for it.

furst fuqn post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2293925)

y2k ownz you

PLEASE - WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN! (-1)

sllort (442574) | more than 13 years ago | (#2293926)

Please read this important announcement:

The case for Positive Nuclear Correction

Many of you may be wondering what Osama Bin Laden was hoping to communicate to the United States by killing tens of thousands of people. I propose that his extraorinarily effective message was this:

Arabic people from the Middle East do not deserve protection from genocide.

He did his best to communicate this message, and it is our duty to do our best to listen, and understand. Using public transportation as a weapon, he attempted to publicly slaughter more Americans than were killed in the Vietnam War by immolation, and attempted to kill everone in our government. Don't forget that both NY and Washington were failures by his standards: the planes hit too high, allowing many to escape, and Washington was just totally botched. Bin Laden intended to immolate more Americans than died in Vietnam and to kill everyone in our government without declaring war - all in the most cowardly and Internationally Illegal manner possible.

A culture capable of fostering this idea is, quite obviously, a culture in need of change. In the 1940's, Japan & Germany were home to two cultures in need of change. Many argued that they would come around to reason if we left them alone. I won't go into that.

Today, Germany is the first culture to speak out against racial purification attempts, Japan the first to speak out against Imperialism. Both learned cultural lessons. However, the cost of teaching them these lessons was immense for both them and for us. To make Japan understand - to make Germany understand - required the wholesale slaughter of millions of their citizens. This fact remains unchanged, today.

What has changed is that the cost for America need not be immense. While we are in dire need of creating cultural change in the Middle East, we have the advantage of a large nuclear arsenal with which to accomplish this change. We can effectively fight World War II in a day, without losing a single American life. The lives that must be lost in the middle east are already lost, due to their cultural error - but technology allows us to save the lives of the Americans who would normally have to go to the Middle East and perform this task manually.

It is time for us to employ nuclear technology to save American lives and to effect cultural change. We must make the Middle East a region which is the first to speak out against terrorism - just as Germany and Japan speak out against their former crimes. We must accomplish this task in the time-honored manner: wholesale slaughter of civilian populations.

The only remaining question is which countries should be vaporized. The short list would appear to be Saudi Arabia (the home of Bin Laden), as well as Afghanistan and Iraq. But those details are out of place in this discussion.

Please, write your congressman in favor of Positive Nuclear Correction.

Re:PLEASE - WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294061)

While, morally and historically, you are 100% correct, my qualm with you is one of tactics. I don't think we should nuke the oil-rich nations. We need to find another way of wiping them out, so that we can have the oil.

After all, Rome was able to wipe out Carthage (for the same reasons) with pointed sticks.

Re:PLEASE - WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294120)

We have neutron bombs. We should not be afraid to use them.

Re:PLEASE - WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN! (-1)

trollercoaster (250101) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294123)


We need to find another way of wiping them out, so that we can have the oil.

easy - Neutron Bomb.

Re:PLEASE - WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN! (-1)

sllort (442574) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294154)

After all, Rome was able to wipe out Carthage (for the same reasons) with pointed sticks.

And salt. Agreed, we need to be outfitting our MX's with neutron warheads. Shouldn't be too hard.

Re:PLEASE - WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294100)

We (I speak for all Americans) asked for Tuesday's attack the very first time we picked sides in the eternal Arab/Israeli conflict. We made it inevitable the last time we indiscriminately bombed innocents under the guise of "sending a message" or "punishing the perpetrators" or whatever buzzphrase our megalomaniac politicians use when we suffer revenge for our earlier indiscriminate killings.

Say we nuke a portion of the middle east. Will everyone be as surprised, as we were on Tuesday, when they strike back harder? Are 4,000 American lives worth more than ~1,000,000 Iraqi lives?

The only ethical thing a country can do in regards to other countries' conflicts is to help both sides evenly until they both grow tired of fighting. Instead, we pick one side to support and give them weapons, money, and training. They use this to mercilessly slaughter their enemy (who likely has a political system or dominant religion that we don't agree with), rape their women, and turn their arable land into minefields. Name a country at random and it is likely that, in the last century, the U.S.A. supported them or one of their enemies. In each case we later paid the price in American blood.

C.I.A. trained ibn Laden was once our pawn against the Soviets. Instead of "Attack on America", "America under Attack", etc., the headlines should read "Snake Bites Master's Hand: Film at 11".

Re:PLEASE - WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN! (-1)

sllort (442574) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294126)

Say we nuke a portion of the middle east. Will everyone be as surprised, as we were on Tuesday, when they strike back harder?

Yes. If we kill all of them, and they do anything but evaporate, I will be very surprised.

Blame This (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2293938)


* g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x *
g g
o / \ \ / \ o
a| | \ | | a
t| `. | | : t
s` | | \| | s
e \ | / / \\\ -- \\ : e
x \ \/ --~~ ~--| \ | x
* \ \-~ ~-\ | *
g \ \ .--------.__\| | g
o \ \_// ((> \ | o
a \ . C ) _ ((> | / a
t /\ | C )/ \ (> |/ t
s / /\| C) | (> / \ s
e | ( C__)\__/ // / / \ e
x | \ | \\__// (/ | x
* | \ \) `---- --' | *
g | \ \ / / | g
o | / | | \ | o
a | | / \ \ | a
t | / / | | \ |t
s | / / \/\/ | |s
e | / / | | | |e
x | | | | | |x
* g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x *

hmmm... (3, Insightful)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 13 years ago | (#2293942)

so because the age of the mother was calculated incorrectly, it fucked up the results? i find it hard to belive the doctors wouldn't notice a mistake such as that....

-teknopurge

Re:hmmm... (-1, Flamebait)

Computer! (412422) | more than 13 years ago | (#2293969)

I find it hard to believe that any mother actually giving birth to her child was considered a "mistake". I hope to God those children never grow up to read this article, and learn about the "mistake" that resulted in thier births.

Re:hmmm... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2293987)

Good thing they'll be too stupid to comprehend it, huh?

Re:hmmm... (3, Interesting)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294004)

So this Y2K bug led this program to believe these mothers had a negative age? Or at least that's what I can draw from it... You'd think it's programmers would have a line of code to make sure that didn't happen. I guess it must not pay to be thurough anymore...

Re:hmmm... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294062)

They should have used an unsigned short.

Or at least an unwrapped condom.

It's only a screening test (4, Interesting)

aradiaseven (167118) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294047)

The test they're referring to is only a screen to see whether you're low-risk for Down's or high-risk, based on the factors mentioned (mother's age, weight, etc.). From these factors they come up with a number that reflects your general level of risk. So just from that it wouldn't be obvious to the doctors that the moms' ages (and therefore risk levels) were being miscalculated.

The screening test does not tell you whether or not the fetus actually has Downs -- for that, you need further tests, such as amniocentesis. It's this chance for further testing that was missed.

Does it matter? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2293943)

My only question is why not have a down syndrome baby? They are a little slower in learning, but some down baby's become Savants and really help the math/science comunitee. Don't want to start a prolive vs prochoice troll here, but only ask why?

Re:Does it matter? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294012)

You ever go fishing?

When you go fishing, sometimes there's a limit. With kids, there's a limit too - most families only have the resources (time, money, etc) to have a few children. Now if you can only take 2 fish home, and it's REAL easy to catch fish, are you going to bring home two scrawny fish, deformed and ugly with little edible flesh? Hell no, you're going to toss em back and try again until you get something worthwhile.

Re:Does it matter? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294106)

It's common practice to avoid eating babies, though.

Re:Does it matter? (0, Flamebait)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294016)

My only question is why not have a down syndrome baby?

Because apparently, it's inconvenient and stressful to have give birth and raise a child with less than 50% of the mental capabilities of a healthy child. Gee, that must just suck that you're so inconvenienced. I guess those 'terminated' pregancies (i.e. - dead babies) will just have to join their wrongfully killed brethren from the WTC's too. Sometimes this world's hypocrisy makes me sick. Instead of this story being upbeat about how many babies were born WITHOUT Downs Syndrome, it's a story about how many false results resulted in inaccurate 'terminations.'

Sometimes dead is better (nt) (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294044)

(nt)

Re:Does it matter? (1, Informative)

skotte (262100) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294020)

are you stupid? have you any idea the costs involved in raising a child with special needs? i realize as i type this you may very well know the exact dollar amount. and if thats the case, and you still hold this belief, you are more of a moron. i love my brother dearly, but would never ever ever ever chose to have another sibling with downs.

Re:Does it matter? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294026)

Well...
  1. No one wants a 'tard baby
  2. They cost more
  3. They are dependant on others for life
  4. DS people look funny

Re:Does it matter? (-1)

CmdrTaco on (468152) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294145)

All those things apply to you, yet you are posting on /.

Yeah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2293954)

they should have used linux, suckers

Re:Yeah (-1, Offtopic)

solaris_system (459243) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294021)

You mean Unix right?

The Horror! (-1, Flamebait)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 13 years ago | (#2293956)

Imagine that. I bet these kids would be better off dead, don't you agree?


For an enlightening read on Down's syndrome kids, go here. [netfuture.org]

Re:The Horror! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2293979)

woooo.... your about to start a Prolife vs ProChoice war here. Better just accept getting modded down. Lets not start trolling it up here, people. Emotions are still running high!

better accuracy with Y2K computers... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2293957)

... than using an abacus!

Oh no! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2293960)

Defective humans were born before they could be murdered!

This is worse than the WTC attack!

This is the best effect of Y2K I've seen yet if it prevented two babies from being murdered.

I've worked with mentally handicapped kids, and believe me, they're glad they were born, they enjoy life, and they're a lot nicer than most people I know.

Re:Oh no! (2)

nanojath (265940) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294134)

Putting AC's shrill pro-life rhetoric to one side, I am strongly pro-choice but I strongly object to the tone of your write-up suggesting a causal link between the negative Downs tests and the pregnancies being carried to term. There is no suggestion of this in the article. The point the article makes is that an accurate test would have given the Mothers the knowledge they needed to deal with the reality of their situation. Instead they received an assurance that proved to be false. There is no evidence either way on whther these mothers would have even considered terminating these pregnancies.

This is not a bad thing. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2293964)

Anyone who has ever worked with Down's babies and children know that they are wonderfully special and deserve all the love they can get. Any mother who knows she is carrying a Down's baby and chooses the terminate shouldn't be a mother.

Re:This is not a bad thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294089)

Why not? If you kill it before it's conscious, many of us believe it's not murder.

So what's the difference between ending a downs pregnancy because you'd rather have a healthy baby and doing it because your birth control failed?

If anything, the less intelligent downs baby would be even less of a loss than in a regular abortion.

I am not pro-life or anything (5, Insightful)

The Slashdolt (518657) | more than 13 years ago | (#2293971)

but should this be "y2k bug saves two lives"? It seems that (according to the article) the two mothers would have aborted their babies had they known they were going to have downs syndrom. I do consider myself pro-choice, but I don't think that aborting a baby just because it has downs syndrome is the right thing to do. I know many people with downs syndrome, including some family members, and there is no reason they can't live a happy life with parents that love them.

Don't feed the weak (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294022)

My purpose in life is to bring children into the world that are healthy, can bear children, and are productive members of society. Whether the child with downs syndrome is happy or not is irrelevant. Nurturing the weak flies in the face of nature.

Re:Don't feed the weak (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294113)

Personally, I can do about 200 push-ups and about 60 pull-ups. I can bench about 250 (on the Smith machine). I regularly run 10 miles at a time.

If you're not up to my standards, you are weak. I'm sure you wouldn't mind killing yourself.

Re:Don't feed the weak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294138)

Personally, I can do about 200 push-ups...

Yep I do something similar to that several times a week.

If you're not up to my standards, you are weak. I'm sure you wouldn't mind killing yourself.

I don't think self-sufficiency is very much to ask.

... (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294031)

Murder in the name of conveniance anyone?

Re:I am not pro-life or anything (2)

Oztun (111934) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294036)

I agree. I believe parents who don't want children or can't take care of them should be entitiled to choose. However I have a step cousin with down syndrome and a sister who is blind and autistic. I am appalled that people are aborting children because of downs syndrome.

Re:I am not pro-life or anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294038)

I guess the point is that the parents wouldnt have been happy with Downs syndrome children. And I respect both sides of the argument but it is their baby... dunno who is right on stuff like this

Re:I am not pro-life or anything (3, Interesting)

WNight (23683) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294112)

Sure, ignorance is bliss. Now, I'm sure you'll consent to your lobotomy, right? After all, some patients go on to very happy lives, even if they're a bit simple...

I'm sure that non-retarded people live much more fulfilling lives, so while someone with a mental problem may be happy, they'd have been more independant, and likely much happier, if they were healthy.

For instance, my relationship with my fiance is the best thing that's happened to me, I wouldn't be independant enough to support myself, let alone able to find a lover and have a meaningful relationship.

Not to mention, don't the parents ever want the kid to move out? Wouldn't the kid be unhappy when his parents die and he has to move to a home? And wouldn't he, to the degree he'd be able, feel upset about being such a burden?

I've made MY decision. I've asked family to withdraw life-support if I'm ever badly brain-damaged. The most painful thing for me would be to go through life, remembering everything I could have been. Can you imagine knowing you had once been able to program, but now not been able to comprehend a mouse, or read even simple books?

No way! Better off dead!

Re:I am not pro-life or anything (1, Insightful)

The Slashdolt (518657) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294141)

But what about people who were considered to be "slow" or even "retarded" who went on to become incredible geniuses. People like Einstein. Could you imagine if Einsteins parents would have found out that young Albert was gonna be slow, so you might as well abort him. We all would have lost something. People who are considered slow or retarded can go on to do GREAT things. Look at Stephen Hawking! Don't underestimate the power of the human spirt!

Re:I am not pro-life or anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294164)

You have *no* idea. You never will. Not unless you are reborn with Downs.

Sure, if you've lived a happy life, then get a lobotomy, you'll live in misery.
But if you've lived your life with Downs, you can achieve the same level of fulfillness you live today. Not necessarily a wife, but something "simple" as you say.

This is hard to explain, but lemmie try here.
You've lived your entire life on a desert island. All by yourself. When you turn an old age, you are found and brought into the world. Just having people around you and the ability to contact people would fulfill your life. Just being able to see other people. You don't need marriage, for this is enough to make you die fulfilled.

Bugger, I can't explain it any better, but it has to do with how you live, and how you can change your life, not the specifics of "marriage" or something the -you- consider fulfilling.

The Good Bug? (2, Funny)

Stackster (454159) | more than 13 years ago | (#2293974)

Well, what do you know. A bug that actually saved lives.

Had to blame SOMETHING. (2)

chill (34294) | more than 13 years ago | (#2293975)

I guess they had to blame SOMETHING, and since Y2K got no respect, they nailed that.

The implications are interesting, though. Wait until the anti-abortion crowd gets ahold of that.

"Sorry. We screwed up on the test. You should have aborted that one. Maybe next time."

I stubbed my toe (-1, Offtopic)

allknowing (304084) | more than 13 years ago | (#2293980)

God, if I'd only realized it was 2001, I'd be ok

Re:I stubbed my toe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294002)

I stubbed my toe too!

HOW CRAPPY is that? What EVER will we do?
Something needs to be done.

Someone please call the WAAAmbulance

Re:I stubbed my toe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294025)

are you making fun of me or something?
I stubbed my toe too.

This Y2k thing has to be stopped. If something isn't done, I'll have to do something... something bad.

WAMBULANCE on it's way (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294069)

Yeah yeah yeah..the wambulance is on its way.

These mothers should love their children no matter what "defect" they've got. At least they're able to create LIFE. Isn't that what matters anyway? Where's the enlightenment these days.

Re:WAMBULANCE on it's way (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294081)

So I was thinking.

Why can't we ask the government for many when we encounter *any* grievance.

Bah! whatever. This is survival of the fittest.
Forget trying to recoup money. People, I'm sick of laywers getting rich because of peoples' willingness to sue everything under the sun

Re:WAMBULANCE on it's way (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294103)

*sarcasm?*

Re:WAMBULANCE on it's way (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294116)

Ignorance must be blissful.

Of course, at least his first statement, was sarcasm.

Get serious (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294127)

are you people bored and stupid?

This is a viable claim from these mothers.

Obviously there was a computational error and some mothers took their pregnancies to term.
If they could have had correct information in a timely manner, none of this would have happened.

Re:I stubbed my toe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294143)

I understand your frustration with this crappy world.

Horray for Millenium Bug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2293985)

So what if a couple of selfish mothers didn't have a chance to abort their babies. This is a case where the millenium bug was saving lives, not ruining them. Hooray for the millenium bug!

Re:Horray for Millenium Bug (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294101)

The taxpayers who will be supporting these tards for life won't be cheering.

Problem still can be fixed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2293991)

>and that two of them brought the pregnancies to term.

Why is this important? If the parents want to try again, they can. It's not like it is all that difficult. And these two infants can still be terminated if their families think they will be seriously burdened by having to raise defective, high maintenance offspring.

Y2K bug disaster (1)

BeforeCoffee (519489) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294001)

"The article actually idicates that four women were pregnant with Down Syndrome babies, and that two of them brought the pregnancies to term."

Does this mean two of them were aborted? How many mothers had false positives on Down Syndrome diagnoses? I guess the Y2K bug was a real threat after all and had tragic consequences.

Re:Y2K bug disaster (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294056)

I believe it said that 150 mothers were correctly diagnosed, while the four weren't (I'm not sure about the 150, if they aborted or not). Out of the four only two came to term, the others were thrown away like so much unwanted garbage. It really does make me feel sick.

And there are still people who think.... (5, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294003)

...that it's a good idea to use these tests as the basis for termination. Oh, great.


"Whoops! Sorry, Mrs. Flittersnoop, we just discovered that your twins would have been OK, after all. It was all because of that Millenium Bug that we neglected to fix. Now, isn't that silly!"


Next week....


"Sorry to bother you, Mrs Flittersnoop, I know you're still upset over the loss of your babies. We've just received back the re-checked test results for your husband, and we're glad to say he didn't have terminal cancer, as our computers had indicated. Unfortunately, the mail didn't get sorted in time, and we've already given him euthanasia. Now, now. Don't cry! There are bound to be bugs in any computer system. Now, Mrs. Flittersnoop, be very careful with that uzi. We don't want any more accidents, now... Mrs. Flittersnoop.... Will you please stop looking at me that way.... This really isn't helping.... The EULA clearly states that we're not responsible for computer errors.... If you don't put that safety catch back on, right now, I'll have to make a written complaint...."

Re:And there are still people who think.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294052)

"Whoops! Sorry, Mrs. Flittersnoop, we just discovered that your twins would have been OK, after all. It was all because of that Millenium Bug that we neglected to fix. Now, isn't that silly!"

Alas, once the abomination has been brought into the world unhealthy, deformed, or retarded it is too late. Better to play it safe. Don't feed the weak.

Re:And there are still people who think.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294105)

You mean Mrs. Buttle, don't you?

Kill All Muslims. Islam is a pig religion. Kill. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294007)

Th dead cry out for justice:
  1. Kill all Arabs.
  2. Kill all Muslims.
  3. Kill all Mohammedans.
  4. Kill all Towel Heads.
  5. Kill all Camel Jockeys
  6. Kill all Islam.
  7. Nuke their countries to hell.
  8. Nuke them again.
  9. Death to Islam.

I piss on Mecca. I wipe my ass with the Koran. I spit upon Mohammed.

Re:Kill All Muslims. Islam is a pig religion. Kill (-1, Offtopic)

skotte (262100) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294074)

But .. but .. but i *LIKE* camels! they're cute and fFuzzy!

Why post this article? (0, Flamebait)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294017)

I have to condone /. editors for posting this.
Emotions are still running very high because of Tuesdays events, and this is just enticing a Prolife vs Prochoice troll war on /.

Lets take it easy people, we're all still a bit touchy, so don't start arguing about this.

What's really dumb is that there is cool articles that aren't being posted, like how Kim Schultz [kimble.org] , famous German hacker turned internet millionaire is offering $10million to info about the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden. But instead we get something to make the /. audience more emotional.

Re:Why post this article? (1)

Ctrl-Z (28806) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294045)


Not only that, but it irks pro-grammar and pro-spelling advocates to boot.

The BBC are reporting in this story that the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, England is blaming the Millennium Bug for getting 150 tests for Down Syndrome with four mothers going on to give birth to affected children.

WTF does that mean?

Re:Why post this article? (1)

chill (34294) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294051)

I think you mean "condemn". Condone means to support.

-chill

Re:Why post this article? (0, Redundant)

Shimmer (3036) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294063)

Take it easy there. This article is news for nerds, after all.

Also, the word you're looking for is "condemn", not "condone".

-- Brian

Re:Why post this article? (2)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294066)

I have to condone /. editors for posting this.

As do I. This is the exact interesting mix of ethics in technology (lumped in with gaming news and gadgetfetishism) that I come to Slashdot for. I condone this story wholeheartedly.

Oh, BTW (From Webster's Unabridged) -

Condone \Con*done"\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Condoned; p. pr. & vb. n. Condoning.] [L. condonare, -donatum, to give up, remit, forgive; con- + donare to give. See Donate.]
1. To pardon; to forgive.

--
Evan

[OT] Condone (1)

HoserHead (599) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294077)

This is a very common mistake, actually.

From WordNet (r) 1.6 [wn]: condone v : excuse or make allowances for; be lenient with; "excuse someone's behavior" [syn: {excuse}] Condone is actually more or less to encourage, and is not a negative word as many seem to think.

Wow. I do not know how to react... (2)

Dman33 (110217) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294023)

I thought that it was common knowledge that the older you are the higher risk you are to having a child with Downs. Most of the effected patients were over 35 which is when this becomes a real risk. Aside from that, how accurate is this testing (when it is calculated correctly)? I don't know about you, but even if the test said I was okay, I would still expect that risk.

It's not about saving babies or not (3, Insightful)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294028)

It's about how such an important piece of code passed dec. 31 1999 without beeing tested against Y2k, specially when everybody involved with the code knew it uses dates to give the result.

I wonder how many lines of code are still there, untested, waiting for someone to run them and screw things up big time...

What's the point again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294029)

Have we started the widescale eugenics program of aborting all handicapped fetuses already?

Sounds more like doctors fucking up a diagnosis and needing to blame some external force. Might as well invoke the "will of God" while we're at it.

Re:What's the point again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294079)

Have we started the widescale eugenics program of aborting all handicapped fetuses already?

Great idea. I will start writing the politicians.

Might as well invoke the "will of God" while we're at it.

Will of God? How do you know what God's will is? How do you know there is a God? Have you ever heard of "the strong survive?" By keeping them alive we are challenging "God's" will.

Just an excuse for an abortion (0, Troll)

kence (24217) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294035)

So really, the problem is that the software designed to calcuate the risk of a given fetus having down's syndrome failed and told women that there was a smaller-than-actual risk, correct?

So worst-case is that some selfish woman (I won't bother to call her a "mother") decided to continue with the pregnancy instead of abort it, because of the incorrectly-reported low-risk and her child was born with down's syndrome.

While no computer error is good, at least it err'd on the side of life. It could have been worst and the software informed the women that they had higher-than-actual risk factor and caused more of the women to seek an abortion.

What's next? (1, Flamebait)

rkischuk (463111) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294037)

The Code Red virus saves a rainforest when idiots opening attachments trigger the massive forwarding of an environmentalist email petition?

Doesn't Make Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294041)

Even if the bug miscalculated the age of the mothers, it would have to make them very old or very young. Both of these differences would have increased the odds of the baby having Down's Syndrome.

Why would it make the mothers' ages in a range where Down's is LESS likely (25-35 years old, I think?)?

Re:Doesn't Make Sense (2)

frknfrk (127417) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294121)

my PC clock always goes to 2094 after y2k (mobo manuf. out of business, award bios doesn't care about end users). i actually had shipped to me a credit card which expired in '49' which leads me to believe they had some problem also.

most operating systems (okay i've only tried windows, freebsd, qnx, beos, dos, and linux) report this date as '1994' (probably my BIOS reports it wrong). so this would make these mothers' ages VERY young indeed :)

-sam

as of my comment, at this time.. (-1, Offtopic)

skotte (262100) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294048)

every single post on this string is a troll. not one person has said anything at al productive, except to start prolife-prochoice wars.

i love my brother dearly, but would never ever ever ever chose to have another sibling with downs.

I get it... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294055)

...probably a pro-life programmer.

From the radio (5 live is so cool!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294057)

the age stat was only one factor in determining the likelyhood (sp I know!) of that woman's child being born with down's syndrome. The people running this program did it for multiple NHS hospitals so they didnt realise how many 41 year old women were passed safe until they had done 158 tests or so and they started noticing the trends...

Testing (2, Interesting)

AX.25 (310140) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294058)

I would like to question the reason such testing is necessary in the first place. If a woman wants to become a mother doesn't the fact that she would consider termination of her pregency because her baby is "less than perfect" create some doubt about her ability to parent? We became parents because we loved children, not because we wanted perfect children.

My wife is a midwife (and previously worked with down's syndrome adults) and we are against most prenatal testing and find it offensive that a person who chooses to be a mother could reconsider because a doctor told her that her baby was damaged.

And no, we are not right to lifer's. We are liberal, UU's and pro-choice.

Pre-natal Testing (1)

TrollMan 5000 (454685) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294067)

I do not know why they relied on the computer in the first place. If they knew the age of the subjects beforehand, they would have performed an amniocentesis in order to examine the chromosomes themselves. This is usually done on patients age 35 and over, who are at higher risk for Down's Syndrome.

More information on the complete screening process is a ds-health [ds-health.com] .

Re:Pre-natal Testing (0)

skotte (262100) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294119)

according to the article as i understand it, the computer in question relayed information stating those affected were in fFact not 35 and over. therefore, rather than checking their data fFor accuracy, they accepted whatever the computer said.

Re:Pre-natal Testing (1)

TrollMan 5000 (454685) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294155)

Which is exactly my point. They didn't go over the data in the computer and compare it to the medical records.

A few minutes per test of checking could have averted this situation entirely.

Heh... (2)

tcc (140386) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294072)

In a perfect world with mature people, we'd take the blame for the damage we cause and apologize for it. Even if it's a mistake, an honnest mistake is far easier to swallow than covering up and taking no responsibility or throwing the ball left and right. Taking the customer/client for a total retard, that is not only hard because of the mistake itself, but the added insult to the intelligence of the victim is really not needed especially in these cases.

If you're a doctor, you're supposed to be intelligent, if you fear something might be screwed up (Y2k was such an issue that you *CAN'T* claim you never heard of it), you take actions (paperwork instead of computer database for a short while, or even better, continue using the computer database while keeping a backup on paper and see if there's anything wrong comparing). I'm sorry but there's simply no excuses for this, oh you won't admit your mistake because you're scared you'll get sued? Well not only you'll get sued anyways, but you'll have a lot of media reporting your mistake AND your actions making you look not only incompetent (which you feared in the first place and tried to avoid), but also like an irresponsible immature child that will blame anyone but himself.

That said, I blame and will sue the heck out of the tooth fairy for not pulling out my teeth that got me a painful root canal treatment!

You're all missing the point... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294086)

I see all of these comments about how this was a good thing and how they're glad that the children were alive... but you're all missing the point:

Those poor mothers who had those children were inconvenienced!

Can't you all see that this is far more important than a fetus' supposed "right" to life?

Numbers are a bit misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294092)

The article is a little bit misleading. It would lead you to believe that there were 150 WRONG conclusions drawn, when I believe in fact out of 150 that were calculated incorrectly, 4 turned out to be wrong.

I have a prediction (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294108)

There will be no women posting any pro-life sentiments re: this article.
All females will be on the side of "kill the retards before they're born! Kill 'em all!!"

Yes, and they should be. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294117)

All females will be on the side of "kill the retards before they're born! Kill 'em all!!"

So what's wrong with that? Way back when, these babies would have never been kept. And they shouldn't be kept now. That is the way of all things.

Re:Yes, and they should be. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294133)

yeah, our country would be a much better place if we just kill the kids with down's syndrome. if one slips through and gets born, quietly strangle it. it's the humane thing to do.

Re:Yes, and they should be. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294150)

Finally a voice of reason on slashdot.

Re:I have a prediction (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2294160)

As a libertarian I feel a human life is only worth what they can contribute to the economy. a retarded cild can contribute very little and is a big drain on our funds.

you have to look at the monetary aspect first before anything else.

The Calendar says 2001--but it seems to be 1984... (5, Interesting)

John Murdoch (102085) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294128)

This is just...sad.

I'm at a client's this afternoon for a meeting. When I'm done I'll go home to my wife and three daughters. Daughter #3 has Down syndrome.

There is no such thing as impartial journalism--the words a writer uses color the facts (and opinions) that he or she presents. In an article about a simple date validation problem the writer--and the hospital--manage to convey the idea that this simple computer bug is a catastrophe. After all--two children were born with Down syndrome.

Some readers might miss a point that isn't adequately made in the article: the computer program did not tell the mother whether or not the baby had Down syndrome--all it did was some simple calculation based on age (that's about the only significant factor) and project a statistical risk for Downs. A woman in the high-risk group would be informed that she might wish to have amniocentesis performed--there is no indication (or reason to believe) that the two mothers would have agreed to have the test, or if they had the test they would choose to dispose of their babies.

I submit that there's no moral catastrophe. But this article is an obvious symptom of a serious moral disease: use technology to select characteristics we like in children, and to dispose of children we don't want. Great heavens! A child who might have an extra chromosome, or a child who might have a predisposition to red hair. Egad--a child who might not have a Y chromosome (that would be a girl, if you slept through biology). Nope--terminate her, we'll try again.

The moral issue here isn't the software bug. (The bug, IMHO, is not that big a deal--any Ob/Gyn knows the risk factors. The program strikes me as a boondoggle.) The moral issue is the tone of the article--the obvious belief of the writer that families have been injured by having their children.

The "Y2K1" bug, not the "Y2K" bug (2)

ZxCv (6138) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294130)

The article specifically mentions that these errors occurred as a result of whatever computer or program miscalculating the date when the year turned over to 2001, not 2000.

Sanity Checks (3, Insightful)

_flan (156875) | more than 13 years ago | (#2294147)

This is a good example of how software is not tested. According to the article the problem was due to the mother's age not being correctly calculated. My question is, were there any sanity checks on the mother's age in the first place? Probably not.

It seems logical that for a critical application you would try to have as much sanity-checking code as possible. It should be plainly obvious that no one should have a negative age or be giving birth if they are over 100 years old. And sanity checking code is easy.

The common excuse, though, is the ol' "garbage in, garbage out". Which is fine -- but what if you don't know you have garbage? The software -- if it can -- should at least give a warning.

This gets down to one of the basic questions for software testing: What inputs can you rely on?

Software engineers know by now (at least mostly) that all user input has to be checked and validated. But what about system data, especially something as basic as the date?

The only way to protect against unexpected bad data is to do sanity checking at all steps in the process. If you know even a little bit about the domain, you can usually set reasonable bounds.

Software isn't really engineered unless it makes these kinds of checks.

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