Fatih Pense's Blog

An Interesting Perspective on Automation

Monday, December 12th, 2022

I have come across a HN comment about automation. I think it has an interesting perspective.

“I’VE COME across a number of people over the years who think that modern airplanes, with all their technology and automation, can almost fly themselves. That’s simply not true. Automation can lower the workload in some cases. But in other situations, using automation when it is not appropriate can increase one’s workload. A pilot has to know how to use a level of automation that is appropriate.” … “Whether you’re flying by hand or using technology to help, you’re ultimately flying the airplane with your mind by developing and maintaining an accurate real-time mental model of your reality—the airplane, the environment, and the situation. The question is: How many different levels of technology do you want to place between your brain and the control surfaces? The plane is never going somewhere on its own without you. It’s always going where you tell it to go. A computer can only do what it is told to do. The choice is: Do I tell it to do something by pushing on the control stick with my hand, or do I tell it to do something by using some intervening technology?” [0]

“Dr. Wiener[1] worried, and I agree, that the paradox of automation is that it often lowers a pilot’s workload when that load is already low. And it sometimes increases the workload in the cockpit when it is already high… For those who believe technology is the answer to everything, [he] would offer data to prove that isn’t the case. He said that automated airplanes with the highest technologies do not eliminate errors. They change the nature of the errors that are made. For example, in terms of navigational errors, automation enables pilots to make huge navigation errors very precisely… Dr. Wiener is not antitechnology, and neither am I. But technology is no substitute for experience, skill, and judgment.”[0]

  • [0] Sully: My Search for What Really Matters by Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III, Jeffrey Zaslow
  • [1] “Earl Wiener, Ph.D., a former Air Force pilot who is now retired from the University of Miami’s department of management science. He is renowned for his work in helping us understand aviation safety.”

Source: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=33938728