Errors Failures Risks

Johnny Cabs

The self driving taxis in the film are not as reliable as one would expect given their widespread adoption.  They are easily confused by unexpected situations, such as when Quaid tells it to drive away without inputting a direction.  After exiting a hijacked Johnny Cab, Quaid refuses to pay the fare causing a malfunction.  Rather than dealing with this situation gracefully, the cab attempts to ram Quaid and crashes into a wall, exploding.  Not only does this demonstrate poor consideration for the possible challenges that the software might encounter (such as customers refusing to pay) it shows poor quality control on hardware when the cab explodes after a relatively low speed impact.

Rekall Machines

Though the movie leaves the question of whether or not the machine really fails when Quaid visits Rekall, the film references the less than reliable nature of these machines.  While considering whether or not to visit Rekall Inc, a co-worker tells Quaid about a friend that was lobotomized by the machine.  A machine that directly interfaces with one’s brain would be expected to be built to the highest quality standards, but the film implies that this is not the case.  Rather, they show that the employees at Rekall are quick to dismiss any incidents and to sweep them under the rug.  This choice to hide faults rather than fix them is similar to the case of the Therac 25 mentioned in the class text, Ethics For the Information Age.