Taxonomy of technological risks: when things fail badly


10 Responses to “Taxonomy of technological risks: when things fail badly”

  1. KBert says:

    Or excuse creator; let’s see, where do I point the finger this time?

  2. It’s missing “5. Failure modes that are not in this table”

    • AnthonyC says:

      Watch your self-reference, there.
      2 possibilities.
      1) There are no such failure modes, in which case there is no reason to include point 5.
      2) There are failure modes not found in 1-4. In this case 5. means these failure modes *are* on the table, in 5. So again, 5. indicates an empty set.

      Maybe you should say “5. Other failure modes.” instead.

  3. This table could apply to most kinds of system. Mitigations should cover everything here, plus everything in 5 (as mentioned above).

  4. Where do premonitions fit into this taxonomy!

  5. lknope says:

    On the human side:  what is the difference between a mistake and an error?

    • Little John says:

      An error is when you leave something out. A mistake is when you forget to include it.

      I hope this clarifies all of 1.1 for you.


      • lknope says:

        On the contrary:

        If that is the case, what is the difference between a mistake and an omission?

        • gd23 says:

          1.1.1 mistake—individual with knowledge of the correct procedure accidentally taking incorrect action
          1.1.2 error—individual without knowledge of the correct procedure taking incorrect action
          1.1.3 omission—individual not taking a known correct action often due to hasty performance of a

          I wonder what failure to RTFM falls under.

  6. erin jones says:

    Hmm, I had a science teacher in 7th grade who was fond of peppering us with his favorite koan-like aphorisms. If a kid questioned an equation or something on the board, Mr. Archer would run through the exact steps that one takes to arrive at the equation. Or he would list the history of the evolution of the topic in question, all at the speed of a machine gun wielded by a soldier who really knows how to use his gun, firing in controlled bursts. Then he would conclude with “My mistake, your error.”

    We all loved him very much (including the jocks who hated every teacher) and feared him as well. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that we were in awe of him. In other words, he was an excellent teacher.He was a phenomenal man: 4′ 10” on a good day and he wore lifts and Cuban Heels (with a lab coat), quite the dandy, he sported a 17th century Dutch small spade beard and luxurious, auburn, highly waxed moustaches. He also had a blazing, dessicate wit. His phrase puzzles me to this day.What on earth was he trying to say?

    (edit: I think perhaps Little John’s offering helps me a bit.)

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