By Cook R. J., Kalbfleisch J. D.
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Extra resources for A generalized moverstayer model for panel data
5 Development risk If courts have appeared unduly harsh towards software suppliers whose products are less than perfect, this may be partly because the law has not appreciated how much innovation and unpredictability is involved in our industry. Many IT professionals may feel that it would be quite unreasonable to treat an unsuccessful software system as proving that the developers of the system must have been culpably negligent: it is not like building a bridge, where the engineering issues have been settled for some time and perhaps a qualified bridge designer really does not have much excuse if his construction collapses.
Thus the supreme court of the UK has laid down that where such risks exist, innovation is not a defence against the allegation of negligence: what a responsible professional is expected to do is to refrain from embarking on the project. One way of looking at this is that development risk may be inescapable, but the law wants the risk to be borne by the people who practise the innovative technology, not by their clients or by third parties. IT practitioners ought to be in a better position than others to evaluate IT risks and decide whether they are too great to proceed.
But development risk is about things that in some sense push the boundaries of current human knowledge. Very often, when software bugs cause harm, this will not be because of limits to our scientific knowledge about the consequences of any specific bug, but merely because it is so difficult to locate and eliminate every last bug in a complex program. Each individual bug may be recognisable as an error once it is found, but no matter what régime of testing is applied before the package is released, some bugs are missed.