Invention Needs Testing

An impressive article by Kara Swisher in the Washington Post includes this quote from French philosopher Paul Virilio:

“When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane, you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution. Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.”

Paul Virilio, Philippe Petit, Sylvère Lotringer (1999). “Politics of the Very Worst”, Semiotext

Why test? Our organizations are inventing new things all the time. When we invent capable software, we also invent software that is incapable in some sense. When we develop a product that is usable for some people, we develop a product that may unusable to others. When we invent services, we invent opportunities for service interruptions. When we repair part of a system, we create the potential for disrepair in other parts of it.

Despite our best intentions and discipline, our software, products, services, and systems can have problems that have eluded our awareness — and even our imagination. Testing — getting experience with the things we’re producing, exploring and experimenting with them to evalute them — offers a powerful and responsible way to discover those problems before we inflict them on customers.

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