Imperial College’s modelling Covid-19 which helped persuade the UK and other countries to bring in draconian lockdowns will supersede the failed Venus space probe to go down in history as the most devastating software mistake of all time

May 16, 2020, 10:00 PM

In the history of the world’s expensive software mistakes, Mariner 1 was probably the most notorious. The unmanned spacecraft was destroyed seconds after launch from Cape Canaveral in 1962 when it veered dangerously off-course due to a line of dodgy code. But nobody died and the only hits were to NASA’s budget and pride. Imperial College’s modelling of non-pharmaceutical interventions for Covid-19 which helped persuade the UK and other countries to bring in draconian lockdowns will supersede the failed Venus space probe to go down in history as the most devastating software mistake of all time, in terms of economic costs and lives lost. Since publication of Imperial’s microsimulation model, those of us with a professional and personal interest in software development have studied the code on which policymakers based their fateful decision to mothball our multi-trillion pound economy and plunge millions of people into poverty and hardship. And we were profoundly disturbed at what we discovered. The model is totally unreliable and you wouldn’t stake your life on it.

Born in Saint Petersburg Cos went on to gain a PhD in Computer Science from Saint Petersburg State University and then became one of the first employees at Sun Microsystems new office in Saint Petersburg that went on to have over 400 developers. Cos moved to Silicon Valley in 1998 to continue his career with SUN and authored 17 patents in distributed systems over the years. In a career spanning Yahoo, where he part of the pioneers of big data and a major global bank where is was Chief Data Officer Cos is a veteran open source developer and member of Apache Software Foundation where he has helped and champion a number of successful Apache projects He is a frequent speaker at domestic and international open-source development conferences including Linux Foundation events, Hadoop Summit, SCALE and others.