The sequel to Clarke’s 2001 was called 2010. Clarke was more prescient than I’d realized. This last week I presented my newly reissued credit card to a Minigolf operator. The previous version of the card expired in January of 2009. They just gave me a new one, expiring five years out: 2013. The minigolf operator, Boondocks of Colorado, refused to accept the card. His computers, he said, couldn’t validate any card with an expiration that far out. They just fail on anything after 2011.
How could this be? Why would someone write a computer system so blinkered? My current theory: their system is badly patched to fix Y2K bugs. Many quick-fix solutions just moved the error point, so that years 00-10 are read as 2000-2010, while years 11-99 are read as 1911-1999. These folks or their vendors bought a Y2K kluge ten years ago, and now it’s time to fix it for real—or keep kluging along.