The uncertainties of software program testing and human well being


Because the world continues to take care of COVID-19-related uncertainty and threat, and modifications that modify day-after-day with each attainable demographic, sources of positivity can appear scarce, and even non-existent at occasions. Confusion and dead-end paths are causes of fear for a lot of, and I’m reminded that, for medical professionals—and software program testers—they’re highly effective inspirations for the remainder of us to maintain combating and exploring all that is still unknown.

In early April, after receiving an e-mail stating that somebody at an occasion I had attended examined optimistic for COVID-19, I skilled three straight days of fever and chills, and was subsequently examined for the virus. I anxiously awaited my outcomes for 5 lengthy days whereas remaining in self-isolation in a locked bed room in my house. After they had been lastly posted, I learn the next: 

Not Detected: Your outcomes don’t at the moment detect the presence of novel coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) in your pattern. Destructive outcomes for a pattern collected whereas an individual has signs normally means that COVID-19 didn’t trigger your current sickness.

It’s attainable for this check to offer a adverse end result that’s incorrect (false adverse) in some folks with COVID-19. Which means you could possibly presumably nonetheless have COVID-19 although the check is adverse. If that is so, your healthcare supplier will take into account the check end result collectively together with your signs, attainable exposures, and geographical location of locations you’ve gotten not too long ago traveled in deciding tips on how to take care of you.

In case your end result got here again as Not Detected, have a follow-up dialog together with your healthcare supplier to see if every other testing is required.

After greater than per week of worrying if I had contracted COVID-19, and if I’d doubtlessly handed it on to anybody in my household, I used to be finally advised, “You…most likely don’t have it…however there’s no approach to make sure.” Whereas I used to be clearly thrilled that my outcomes weren’t “Detected,” the “Not Detected” end result—and the “Don’t get too excited, pal,” disclaimer that adopted—initially didn’t ship the aid and elation extra definitive “You do not have COVID-19,” end result would have supplied me.

However, I then remembered one thing that’s all the time true, although, typically exhausting to just accept. Definitively, “there’s no want to check this additional” check outcomes are make-believe. These outcomes are used to appease, not inform. Offering somebody with false guarantees of “You include zero bugs,” solely will increase the probability of that particular person unknowingly infecting extra folks, particularly in the event that they’ve been led to imagine that it’s not possible for them to take action. This high quality of life “assurance” merely isn’t one thing that any physician, nurse, or lab tech can attest to, irrespective of how good it might make their sufferers really feel.

 It is a basic software program tester dilemma. Because the quote from the well-known software program engineer, Edsger W. Dijkstra, goes, “Program testing can be utilized to indicate the presence of bugs, however by no means to indicate their absence!” Any good tester, or nice testing workforce, even when they’re given on a regular basis, check environments, and present information units they may ask for, remains to be restricted in what they, and their exams, can finally “show.” For instance:

Regardless of what number of bugs a tester finds, they can not show they discovered all the bugs.
A tester can present how they discovered no bugs, however they can not show this implies there are no bugs.
A tester can carry out exams that scale back threat, however they can not eradicate threat.

My COVID-19 check outcomes mirror this honesty.

“We didn’t detect COVID-19”…doesn’t imply I don’t have COVID-19.
“It’s attainable for this check to offer a adverse end result that’s incorrect.”
Even when your end result got here again as ”Not Detected,” different testing should be wanted.

 It wasn’t till my signs decreased, and finally disappeared utterly, that I remembered to leverage the uncertainty of my check outcomes, and never be let down by them. Uncertainty is a motivator, not an annoyance. Uncertainty is a real fixed in our lives, a reminder to maintain searching for methods to make the well being of your physique (or your code) a precedence, and to uncover new methods of engaging in this lifelong problem that may be shared with others to allow them to do the identical.

Nice testers, of any self-discipline, don’t simply look for bugs. They don’t simply discover bugs, and throw them over the wall, or onto a report, with no particulars about how they discovered them, or how they is likely to be erased. And, when nice testers don’t discover any bugs, they don’t simply report “No bugs! Ship it!” or “No bugs! Get again out into these heavy crowds of individuals!”

 Nice testers level out different issues they discover whereas exploring the check topic. They observe issues that appear like potential bugs to them, although they won’t be an issue to another person. They level out what’s not a bug as we speak, however very effectively might be one tomorrow. And, they provide solutions to scale back the probability of these bugs returning in future check topics and launch candidates.

There’s a sure accountability that each one testers—software program testers and medical testers alike—all possess. It’s the clear accountability to not solely inform us the reality, but additionally to inform us what falsities to cease believing as reality, to assist us keep away from inflicting ourselves or others additional hurt. This honesty helps us learn to begin being much more snug with the reality, whether or not we imagine the information is sweet or unhealthy. As a result of as soon as we, like testers, cease believing that excellent news means we’ve achieved “sufficient,” or that unhealthy information means “recreation over,” we’ll by no means miss the chance to take steps towards bettering the standard of our personal lives, and the lives of these round us.