Obsolescence is the bane of the tech-consumer. When you’re trying to upgrade the old laptop, it’s not uncommon to find out that Apple or Microsoft doesn’t make that part for your system. So instead of spending a few bucks on a new toy, consumers end up shelling out the cash for a whole new computer.
When individual people are dealing with obsolescence, it can hurt the pocket book. When the US Air Force struggles with the problem, it can have “sweeping, potentially life-threatening consequences,” Peter Sandborn writes for IEEE Spectrum. The US government is constantly playing catch-up, Sandborn writes, either stockpiling old parts right before the manufacturer quits making them, or replacing whole systems to keep up with the times. Sandborn sketches out some ways the government can get in front of the curve, and anticipate obsolescence in a more cost-effective way.