Saturday, March 16, 2019

What Would Sully Say?

"Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!"
These were the carefully considered words from our "President" in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash over the weekend.
My father died in a plane crash. Not a jet liner, but a single engine prop plane that narrowly missed that best of all possible ends, a landing from which everyone could walk away. My father did not. Do I blame the pilot? No. A family friend who had made that approach hundreds, maybe thousands, of times clipped a power line and dropped his plane suddenly to the ground: he made a mistake. Do I wish that there was one more fail-safe or one more piece of technology that could have averted a crash that took my father away?
You bet I do.
Do I wish that Albert Einstein had been piloting the plane that day?
I am glad that a competent and trained pilot was behind the wheel instead of a world-famous theoretical physicist. I don't know if a little computer science would have helped that day, but I do know that the accident might have been avoided in any one of a thousand ways. That's why they are called "accidents." Meanwhile, our "President" continues to blather on about subjects about which he knows less than nothing. His is a knowledge vortex. For him, "simpler is better" and he suggests that airplanes without computer assisted systems are somehow superior. The same guy who wants to Make America Great Again would prefer that we do it without technology.
"Complexity creates danger."
Shut up.

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