Looks like the Y2K bug has bitten, 17 years late!
A Los Angeles Times article-writing bot sent shockwaves through the internet Wednesday – by falsely reporting a hefty 6.8M earthquake had hit Santa Barbara county, California. The quake did occur, but it was back in 1925 – 92 years ago. It’s not the first time bots have been accused of spreading fake news. The US elections in …
"The LA Times' Quakebot is an automatic article-generating program that uses algorithms to turn email alerts from the US Geological Survey (USGS) into news stories. "
Really? An algorithm? That sounds quite *bullshitty or at least some human started the error. How about just hook it up to an active seismograph?
Presumably in a narrow range between "large enough to care about" and "destroyed the infrastructure to send the email"
York city council setup an expensive flood detection and warning system when the alternative was a web server in any riverside pub = "If you can't reach this page the river is flooded"
Anybody can sign up for them. I don't think I've ever seen one below a 6. The Europeans also send them, GDACS, but their's are sometimes delayed from USGS. When I got that email I immediately started looking at Santa Barbara Channel webcams so I could see a tsunami in real-time, until the cameras went away, of course.
I noticed the date but figured that someone was messing around with the alien earthquake generator and had accidentally hit the Run Now button on that scheduled task.
"events like these remind us that robot journalists aren’t infallible and make mistakes – just like humans"
As the article makes clear, the "robot" journalist did exactly what it was supposed to do, the mistake was made by a human. In fact, there appear to have been two mistakes probably by two separate humans - the first being the human who failed to make a service with historical data going back over a century Y2K compliant, and the second being the human who edited the data but then failed to check that it was actually correct afterwards. At no point does a computer appear to have done anything other than exactly what it was told.
M6.8 - SANTA BARBARA CHANNEL, CALIF.
Preliminary Earthquake Report
Date-Time • 29 Jun 2025 14:42:16 UTC
• 29 Jun 2025 07:42:16 near epicenter
• 29 Jun 2025 09:42:16 standard time in your timezone
Location 34.300N 119.800W
Depth 10 km
Distances • 14 km (9 miles) SSE (156 degrees) of Isla Vista, CA
• 16 km (10 miles) S (175 degrees) of Goleta, CA
• 16 km (10 miles) SW (214 degrees) of downtown Santa Barbara, CA
• 145 km (90 miles) W (281 degrees) of Los Angeles Civic Center, CA
Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 0.0 km; Vertical 0.0 km
Parameters Nph = 0; Dmin = 0.0 km; Rmss = 0.00 seconds; Gp = 0°
Version = 0
Event ID ci 37161284
Followed an hour later by:
Subject: 2025-06-29 14:42:16 DELETED: (M6.8) SANTA BARBARA CHANNEL, CALIF. 34.3 -119.8 (84ba6)
DELETED: Event ci 37161284
== EVENT DELETED NOTIFICATION ==
***This event has been deleted after review by a seismologist.***
Geographic coordinates: 34.300N, 119.800W
Universal Time (UTC): 29 Jun 2025 14:42:16
Time near the Epicenter: 29 Jun 2025 07:42:16
Location with respect to nearby cities:
14 km (9 miles) SSE (156 degrees) of Isla Vista, CA
16 km (10 miles) S (175 degrees) of Goleta, CA
16 km (10 miles) SW (214 degrees) of downtown Santa Barbara, CA
145 km (90 miles) W (281 degrees) of Los Angeles Civic Center, CA
WE had to WAIT 2 MINUTES to get that BREAKING NEWS posted because you were in teh BATHROOM you lazy scum sucking layabout welfare recipient. We COULD HAVE LOST MEEEEELIONS in AD rrrrrrrRRREEVVEEEENUUEEE!!!!
I'm sorry, what the sam f**k happened to the position once referred to as "copy editor"?
Oh ... right. Now occupied by Shlep Chequers and Grammor validictorians.
The "copy editor" died when the physical box called a "Web Press" died, along with typesetting and proofreading. This occurred right under our noses with the near ubiquitousness of the inherently ephemeral World Wide Web. If that's not ironic (and somewhat sad) I don't know what is ...
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