Crash: how computers are setting us up for disaster
We increasingly let computers fly planes and carry out security checks. Driverless cars are next. But is our reliance on automation dangerously diminishing our skills?
by Tim Harford The Guardian (long read) 10-16-2016
"This problem has a name: the paradox of automation. It applies in a wide variety of contexts, from the operators of nuclear power stations to the crew of cruise ships, from the simple fact that we can no longer remember phone numbers because we have them all stored in our mobile phones, to the way we now struggle with mental arithmetic because we are surrounded by electronic calculators. The better the automatic systems, the more out-of-practice human operators will be, and the more extreme the situations they will have to face."
"For all the power and the genuine usefulness of data, perhaps we have not yet acknowledged how imperfectly a tidy database maps on to a messy world. We fail to see that a computer that is a hundred times more accurate than a human, and a million times faster, will make 10,000 times as many mistakes. . . . If we rely on computers completely, disaster awaits."
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