Baron Schwartz

Early-Warning Is an Unknown Unknown

Velocity 2013 Speaker Series

In 2002, US Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld told a reporter that not only don’t we know everything important, but sometimes we don’t even know what knowledge we lack:

There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

One of the purposes of monitoring is to build early-warning systems to alert of problems before they become serious. But how can we recognize a failure in its early stages? It’s a thorny question.

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