…tic wealth and the disturbing inequities it perpetuates are the subject of a recent report from the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, which is appropriately titled, “Billionaire Bonanza 2018: The Role of Dynastic Wealth.” In compiling the report, coauthors Josh Hoxie and Chuck Collins dove into the Forbes 400 list, and found that one-third of the members have inherited wealth from previous generations. The 15 wealthiest families (who each have multiple members on the Forbes 400 list) account for a combined wealth of $618 billion.
“When we had electromechanical systems, we used to be able to test them exhaustively,” says Nancy Leveson, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has been studying software safety for 35 years. She became known for her report on the Therac-25, a radiation-therapy machine that killed six patients because of a software error. “We used to be able to think through all the things it could do, all the states it could get into.” The electromechanical interlockings that controlled train movements at railroad crossings, for instance, only had so many configurations; a few sheets of paper could describe the whole system, and you could run physical trains against each configuration to see how it would behave. Once you’d built and tested it, you knew exactly what you were dealing with.