Sign In

Communications of the ACM

Inside risks

The Foresight Saga, Redux


View as: Print Mobile App ACM Digital Library In the Digital Edition Share: Send by email Share on reddit Share on StumbleUpon Share on Hacker News Share on Tweeter Share on Facebook
The Foresight Saga, Redux, illustration

Credit: Alicia Kubista / Andrij Borys Associates

Short-term thinking is the enemy of the long-term future.

The full text of this article is premium content


Comments


CACM Administrator

The following letter was published in the Letters to the Editor in the January 2013 CACM (http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2013/1/158757).
--CACM Administrator

Peter G. Neumann's "Inside Risks" Viewpoint "The Foresight Saga, Redux" (Oct. 2012) addressed how to provide security but fell short. Though security requires long-term approaches and research advances, traditional incentives target quick rewards. I teach a graduate course on IT strategy and policy largely focused on this dilemma. When technology moved slowly, slow acquisition and delayed delivery caused minor losses. Now, however, along with improvement due to technology innovation, delays in exploiting advanced technology incur exponentially increased opportunity costs. Most businesses cannot wait for high-trust solutions or systems that significantly surpass state-of-the-art quality. Likewise, most government systems are already too costly and too late, in part because they try to address an unreasonably large number of requirements.

The risk-management problem necessitates a portfolio-management approach. In the context of IT systems for business or government, it would be more affordable and practical to create multiple alternatives and fallback options and not depend on a single system where failure would be devastating. In addition, applications should be separated from research and funded appropriately. It would be great to have a secure Internet, unbreakable systems, and uniformly trained people, but such goals are not practical today. The focus should instead be on risk mitigation, resilience, and adaptation, even though the incentives for moving quickly are often irresistible. "Ideal" systems are indeed the enemy of practical portfolios built to withstand a range of risks.

Rick Hayes-Roth
Monterey, CA


Displaying 1 comment

Log in to Read the Full Article

Sign In

Sign in using your ACM Web Account username and password to access premium content if you are an ACM member, Communications subscriber or Digital Library subscriber.

Need Access?

Please select one of the options below for access to premium content and features.

Create a Web Account

If you are already an ACM member, Communications subscriber, or Digital Library subscriber, please set up a web account to access premium content on this site.

Join the ACM

Become a member to take full advantage of ACM's outstanding computing information resources, networking opportunities, and other benefits.
  

Subscribe to Communications of the ACM Magazine

Get full access to 50+ years of CACM content and receive the print version of the magazine monthly.

Purchase the Article

Non-members can purchase this article or a copy of the magazine in which it appears.