Sunday, April 16, 2006

If This Man Believed His Computer, We Would Likely Be Dead By Now

On September 26, 1983, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov, who was the Russian officer who oversaw his country's missile attack warning system, refused to believe his computer that told him that the USA had launched several nuclear missiles toward his country.

The computer (with inputs from spy satellites) told him a single missile was coming. He reasoned that if the USA was attacking, there would be more than one missile. A short time later, the computer told him another four missiles were coming.

If he had decided the warning was real, he would have initiated the retaliation response that would launch nuclear missiles toward the USA, which in turn would start a full-scale nuclear exchange, destroying the world civilization.

He decided the warning was a false alarm and advised other people as such. Some time later, his decision was proven right. There was no attack from the US. Homo sapiens avoided its extinction once more.

More info about Colonel Petrov can be found here, here, and here.

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