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Man who prevented World War 3 dies aged 77

Posted on Friday, 22 September, 2017 | Comment icon 9 comments

Petrov pictured at his home in 2016. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Queery-54
Former Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov made a decision in 1983 that may have saved the world.
During the Cold War, Petrov had been stationed at a Russian nuclear early warning center where his job involved monitoring computer readouts for signs of a missile launch by the United States.

Everything had been quiet when, on the morning of 26 September, 1983, he received data suggesting that an attack was actually happening.

"I had all the data [to suggest there was an ongoing missile attack]," said Petrov. "If I had sent my report up the chain of command, nobody would have said a word against it."

"All I had to do was to reach for the phone; to raise the direct line to our top commanders - but I couldn't move. I felt like I was sitting on a hot frying pan."
Stealing his nerves, Petrov decided instead to call up the duty officer at army headquarters and report that a system malfunction had occurred.

"Twenty-three minutes later I realized that nothing had happened," he said. "If there had been a real strike, then I would already know about it. It was such a relief."

A later investigation revealed that Soviet satellites had erroneously interpreted sunlight reflecting on clouds as evidence of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Petrov, whose actions during the incident have been widely credited with averting a nuclear apocalypse, sadly died at his home in Moscow in May of this year at the age of 77.

Source: BBC News | Comments (9)

Tags: World War 3, Cold War

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by and then on 18 September, 2017, 23:42
RIP, indeed.  How many times have we come close and never known...  I read a book called COMMAND AND CONTROL by Eric Schlosser, that recounted a lot of such near misses.  Most of them happened right here on U.S. soil.  I assume that the Russians - and others who have such arsenals had similar experiences as well. 
Comment icon #2 Posted by Jon the frog on 22 September, 2017, 17:01
When it will be artificial intelligence, i don't know if we will evade this kind of errors...
Comment icon #3 Posted by Chaldon on 22 September, 2017, 17:15
It will never be AI for the final decision. At least in Russia. Trust me. Nevertheless there's no guarantee that an erroneous decision can't be taken by a human. In fact, nature knows no guarantees. We can only hope that reason and love prevails over madness. Trite words, I know, but still nothing more true that those.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Hammerclaw on 22 September, 2017, 19:23
"Shall we play a game, Doctor Falken?"
Comment icon #5 Posted by third_eye on 22 September, 2017, 19:29
THe tangled web ...   baltimore chronicle link ~
Comment icon #6 Posted by Parsec on 22 September, 2017, 20:04
That was a really though call to make.  If you are right, you are avoiding a nuclear war and saving mankind.  If you are wrong, you are sentencing to death your country at the hands of your (by that time) nemesis, serving them victory on a silver plate.  And you have to take a decision in a split second.    He is indeed a hero, because when time came, he managed to keep his calm and think logically (and laterally).  We are also lucky that in command there was a person who knew his stuff and not some minister's cousine. 
Comment icon #7 Posted by Why not on 23 September, 2017, 9:37
God Bless You.  RIP
Comment icon #8 Posted by and then on 23 September, 2017, 16:19
I don't think they are trite, at all. They sound like the only wisdom that can save humanity.  I pray that common sense will keep such world-ending decisions out of the control of machines.
Comment icon #9 Posted by aztek on 26 September, 2017, 14:01
we do,not need an AI to see we are destroying ourselves, to save humanity we need to thin the population, machines will have no problem making that decision, humans may have. we may end up killing 6b  to save 1b, but it still be saving humanity. 

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