So we have this great belief in digital solutions like AI, automated systems for cars, power networks that are controlled by computers, the internet, digital face recognition, etc, etc… the list is so long and so pervasive that there is almost nothing that we do that does not involve a computer watching and feeding data about that action to some cloud centre where the data is processed for you-will-never know…
But stop… Pilots for Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines had to battle to get their 737 MAX jets to fly in the sky but were overridden by Boeing’s automatic system each time they did so and their planes crashed killing everybody on board…
It is said by Issac Asimov that we must follow three laws of robotics:
- First Law: A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- Second Law: A robot must obey orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Boeing obviously does not read anything written by Issac Asimov, the sci-fi writer and chemistry professor… all three laws were broken just because Boeing wanted to cut corners so it could keep up with Airbus, according to a report published recently by the US House of Representatives Transport Committee:
“The MAX crashes were… a horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA”
“This report concludes the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s 18- month long investigation of the design, development, and certification of the 737 MAX aircraft, and related matters. The Committee’s investigation has revealed multiple missed opportunities that could have turned the trajectory of the MAX’s design and development toward a safer course due to flawed technical design criteria, faulty assumptions about pilot response times, and production pressures. The FAA also missed its own opportunities to change the direction of the 737 MAX based on its aviation safety mission. Boeing failed in its design and development of the MAX, and the FAA failed in its oversight of Boeing and its certification of the aircraft.”
Too much trust in machines is not that healthy, especially when the machine maker is after fat profits…