The end of time is near (according to computers anyway)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — It’s not the end of the world as we know it, but it is the end of time — according to computer programs and systems.

Scheduled to happen about 16 years from now. Some call it the Y238K bug.

“Bug of the Year 2038 is because many computer systems have been counting time by counting seconds since January 1, 1970,” says Mikko Hypponen, one of the world’s leading cybersecurity experts.

I told him about his home in Helsinki and he explained to me that when the first programmers built the Unix system, on which many programs run, they used code with a time limit.

“And the counter has a limit of 2.1 billion seconds. We will reach the upper limits in 2038, on January 19th. »

To be precise, it happens at 3:14 and 7 seconds. To see a “right now” example, grab your smartphone and try setting the date to 2038. You can’t.

“It’s a bug,” Hypponen says. “This is a programming error that must be corrected. If we don’t fix it, we run the risk of indefinite problems. Systems will fail in ways we don’t fully understand.

What happens one second after the end of the 32-bit Unix hour?

Computers and programs that haven’t been fixed will think it’s 1910. No one knows exactly what that will mean. But they fear that some things we depend on no longer work.

This poses an even greater threat than the year 2000, because unlike life in 1999, everything today is connected to the Internet. Air navigation systems, postal service operations and supermarkets.

Hypponen adds that banks and ATMs are vulnerable to the bug.

The same goes for the power grid and waterworks, the supply chain, and almost anything that connects to a computer program and the internet to function.

Windows itself is not affected, but programs running on the Windows platform that have not been updated will be affected. In other words, we won’t really know what’s going to happen until it does. At precisely 3:14 and 7 seconds after the start of January 18, 2038.

“I am quite confident that this problem will surprise us. There will be things and systems we don’t think about that will surprisingly fail.

2038 seems so far away. But when was 2006? That’s how 16 years can pass quickly. So what’s the next step? Next time I’ll see what’s being done and if the programmers run out of time before the clock strikes.

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