When first news about potential new virus reached people outside China, it was hard to imagine it spread so widely. We’ve seen in many events throughout our history that people are reluctant to entertain a tiny possibility of things going wrong. Last big one was financial crisis in 2008, when many traders, investment bankers, regulators and credit rating agencies turned blind eye to the possibility of people not paying their mortgages which lead to a calamity of all world economies.

When disasters like these hit, it feels sensible to trust the government to take care of their people. Trust is a deciding factor here. Untrustworthy government will make people feel that they are on their own, which will encourage them to make themselves less dependent on a functioning society.

In software, the term dependency is used when one piece of code depends on some other piece of code. In many cases, those dependencies are managed by other people. Trust, again, is how that dependency found it’s way into your software—only because you trust that dependency to work as intended at all times, you decided to use that and save yourself some work.

But with every dependency, you add a potential point of failure: cases when that software is abandoned or worse, hijacked by bad actors, can have dire effects on your business. Replacing those dependencies with your own code is nothing but a risk mitigation.

We all depend on institutions at some level, especially in the time of world-wide crisis. Most of them, realistically, we can’t replace with anything else. Universal health coverage is one of them if you live in a modern country.

But dependencies shaped by our own behavior can be replaced. We could decide not to go to the gym and exercise in a park nearby. We could grow tomatoes in our garden or a balcony instead of going to the grocery store. We could learn how to fix faucet by ourselves rather than waiting for the plumber.

The idea of reducing dependencies could be put to the extreme, and some people do. That’s not what I promote—ability to work collectively is what brought us so far as a species. Only that recent events gives us an opportunity to think how could we depend less on someone else, which makes us less susceptible to crises and ultimately, brings us more tranquillity in our lives.

Rolandas Barysas
Hello, my name is Rolandas Barysas. I write software for a living, splitting my time between freelancing and personal projects.