In the shadow of technological cataclysm: The complexities of Y2K alarmism

Richard Francis Finn, Salve Regina University


In our modern information age, few technological problems have had as great a potential catastrophic impact on humanity as the year 2000 computer date change (Y2K). Although Y2K was considered initially a technical issue with a straight-forward technical solution, it was later found to have significant human consequences and educed a response unparalleled in the late twentieth century. If left unaddressed, Y2K could have caused a serious interruption to critical elements of our complex national infrastructure. As alarmists consistently warned, these disruptions would have grave repercussions in the social, political, and commercial institutions that rely on them. Although Y2K is judged to be a nonevent by some, this study demonstrates that the multiple challenges related to the year 2000 computer date change were more than a technical threat. In addition, this dissertation makes evident that Y2K alarmists were effective in highlighting the risks of modern information technologies. Y2K presented a unique crossroad to examine our attitudes toward advanced technology. The human responses to potential consequences of a cataclysmic event do not always have to be negative. The manner in which these are addressed may also serve as models for resolving future problems. As the Y2K challenge was recent, scholarly research is still in its infancy to assess the effects that this technological episode has had upon humanity. This dissertation seeks to provide an important contribution to this body of knowledge.

Subject Area

History|Social structure|Information Systems

Recommended Citation

Finn, Richard Francis, "In the shadow of technological cataclysm: The complexities of Y2K alarmism" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI3046374.