Re: Y2K

Max More (
Thu, 11 Feb 1999 10:44:05 -0800

At 05:04 AM 2/11/99 -0800, Mark wrote:
>2. Riots: these are pretty much inevitable around the millenium anyway,
>and the bugs will just make them worse. Lack of government handouts due
>to broken computer systems will make them doubly worse. I won't be
>surprised to see troops patrolling the streets by the end of the year.

I'm going on record as saying that the Y2K doomsayers are going to look silly a year from now, at least in regard to the USA. Some countries will have bigger problems. Your point about lack of government handouts is off the mark (unfortunately!). The government systems that give away our money are the *most* advanced in terms of being fixed.

>3. Bank runs: these are pretty much inevitable late this year. The
>government can shut down the banks to stop them, but that will make
>matters worse. They're already printing out more money and that's
>not going to solve the problem.

Why isn't it going to solve the problem? It's possible that if irrational hysteria builds, then far more money than expected will be withdrawn. But the Fed can handle even that, so long as it doesn't all happen in a day. If people draw out extra cash over weeks or months towards the end of the year, there will no real problem. Banks will be fine.

>4. Stock market collapse: this is pretty much inevitable late this
>year. How low it will go is another question, but I don't think the
>bottom will completely drop out of the market because many will take
>advantage of the situation to buy up shares at low, low prices.

Again, this seems to be a general assumption. The belief may be self-fulfilling, producing a short-term dip. If so, I look forward to buying great companies at sale prices. However, again in regard to the USA (and perhaps Europe to a lesser extent), the *opposite* may happen. If you're in a country that has done almost nothing to address the Y2K problem, where would you want to put your money. It seems possible that the US stock market or money market funds will see an increased influx from overseas. This might either damp any dip caused by US investors, or actually cause a rise. Either way, I think it's impossible to time market drops and rises. If you're a long-term investor it makes sense to ride it through.

>5. Foreign problems: most of this message is about the US, Canada and
>Europe; outside of those areas, well, Russia is doomed, Japan is
>doomed, China is in big trouble, and so are many other Asian countries.

I agree that the Y2K threat is much more of an issue for Asian countries and South America. Venezuela only officially started action a couple of months ago. But then I'm not clear how many of these countries systems are old enough to have the problem.

>I won't even mention oil; the Middle East is almost as doomed as Asia.

Any information to back up this claim? I would think they could afford to update their systems, though that doesn't mean they have.

>6. War: with many US military systems out of action and most of the US
>armed forces trying to keep 'order' at home, North Korea, Iraq and other
>coutries will take advantage of it to settle old scores.

Out of action? What evidence do you have for that? I'm not saying you're wrong, but I haven't seen much reason to agree. I only recall tests that show important systems will work. Since I don't see major problems in the US, the military will not be busy here.

If we can agree on some specific claim about unrest in the US and some of these other points, I'm willing to bet money against the doomsayer view.

>7. Civil war: given the general level of chaos, various groups
>are going to take advantage of it to settle old scores; I wouldn't want
>to be in DC in Jan 2000. If martial law lasts too long it will turn into
>a civil war in the US and possibly the more extreme European states.

Please, please, please, make me a specific enough claim about civil way in the US, and I'll take a bet against!

>8. Big business collapse: at least a few big organisations are going to
>collapse, either because they're just broken or they're no longer able
>to make enough money producing non-essential items to survive. Hundreds
>of thousands or millions of new unemployed will just add to the general

I'll also take a bet against your view that millions will become unemployed. We would need to agree on a number of increased unemployed and over what period. I think there will be little or no effect on unemployment.


Max More, Ph.D.
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Philosophical issues of technology
President, Extropy Institute:, EXTRO 4 Conference: Biotech Futures. See