What will happen on January 19, 2038?

What will happen on January 19, 2038?

Those of us interested in computers born before the year 2000 remember “Y2K” and the fear that computers around the world would stop working, or cause problems.

Many of you remember moving forward to the year 2000

The danger was that computers would not be able to handle the transition from December 31, 1999 to 2000, i.e. 00 format:

“Many programs represent four-digit years with only the last two digits, making the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900. The inability of computer systems to differentiate dates correctly had the potential to destroy the global infrastructure of data-driven industries.” Wikipedia summarizes.

But we're still here, not much has happened in the transition period, and we've been “helped” by the millions of posters that were supposed to reassure us all that things will be okay.

What is the problem of January 19, 2038?

But what about 2038? The year can present problems. Linus Torvalds has been talking about this since at least 2016, the year Google reported the most results for disruptions related to Windows and Unix, and what can be done. So what actually is the problem? This sounds like an LLM assignment. We chose to ask Google Gemini and at the same time investigated other sources this he is the cause:

“The year 2038 may become a problem for computers due to an issue called “Y2K38 problem” or “Y2K38 problem.” The challenge stems from the way time is represented in Unix-based systems, which form the basis of many modern operating systems. On Unix systems, time is represented as a 32-bit number indicating the number of seconds since January 1, 1970.

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The maximum value of a 32-bit number is 2,147,483,647 seconds, which corresponds to 03:14:07 UTC on January 19, 2038. When this time is reached, computers using 32-bit timestamps will bypass and revert to 00 :00:00 UTC on January 1, 1970. This can cause a number of problems, including:

  • Software error: Programs that rely on the correct timestamp may fail or produce incorrect results.
  • Data loss: Computers can lose data or corrupt files.
  • System malfunctions: In the worst cases, computers can crash or become unstable.

Gemini explains this to us, and points out that this will only apply to 32-bit machines. Mao. The vast majority will Consumers, except the ones going back 14 years (seems like 2038 longer, right?) have a problem. The greatest danger lies in computer systems that are already outdated, but deeply integrated into important societal tasks. It's widely known that some banking and phone systems can in some cases take advantage of very old software and operating systems, but even the nine-year-old Windows 10 has difficulties:

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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