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Prestige Lecture: The Dependability of Complex Socio-technical Systems

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Since the invention of agriculture, we humans been organising large systems – early examples being the Roman army and the Chinese civil service. But the large systems of today are turning into something qualitatively different, thanks to the interaction of many people with complex software and global scale. Even a system owned by one company, such as Facebook, may have users from countries that are at war with each other; and many systems, from Europe’s electricity grid to the international payments network and the Internet itself, are not under the control of any single company or even government. Our civilisation depends on this infrastructure, and there’s been nothing like it before. The recent hiccups in the international credit system might prompt us to ask what we know about the dependability of complex socio-technical systems, and how this understanding might be improved.

This talk is part of the IET Cambridge Network - Lectures series.

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