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These are matters of common sense, applied to simple questions of cause and effect. But what happens, asks systems-behavior expert Charles Perrow, when common sense runs up against the complex systems, electrical and mechanical, with which we have surrounded ourselves? Plenty of mayhem can ensue, he replies. The Chernobyl nuclear accident, to name one recent disaster, was partially brought about by the failure of a safety system that was being brought on line, a failure that touched off an unforeseeable and irreversible chain of disruptions; the less severe but still frightening accident at Three Mile Island, similarly, came about as the result of small errors that, taken by themselves, were insignificant, but that snowballed to near-catastrophic result.
Only through such failures, Perrow suggests, can designers improve the safety of complex systems. But, he adds, those improvements may introduce new opportunities for disaster. Looking at an array of real and potential technological mishaps--including the Bhopal chemical-plant accident of 1984, the Challenger explosion of 1986, and the possible disruptions of Y2K and genetic engineering--Perrow concludes that as our technologies become more complex, the odds of tragic results increase. His treatise makes for sobering and provocative reading. --Gregory McNamee
Perrow makes the important point that we are now developing and implementing technologies that are more complex than our ability to effectively manage them. Read morePublished 1 month ago by P. Mulloy
This book is a bit old, and would be interesting to have updated now after Fukushima, but interesting nonetheless.Published 2 months ago by Hans A Cathcart
This is a landmark book explaining exactly why disasters occur.Published 3 months ago by Scott Jackson
Interesting but seemed to become just a bunch of stories about bad things happening. No really new advice about how to avoid accidents in complex systems.Published 4 months ago by Don R.
The book is dated. The author makes many dooms day predictions about the nuclear and commercial aviation industries that didn't pan out given the last 30 years. Read morePublished 5 months ago by J. Hoeler
Perrow did an excellent job of explaining -- in advance -- some of our greatest disasters. Anyone who is a fan of Nassim Taleb (Black Swan and Antifragile) would do well to see... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Jim
A survivor of a huge disaster I am fully PTSD. Even after nearly 50 years I watch to see that the words I an told are followed by actions that match them. Read morePublished 14 months ago by George S. Leaf