Paradox of Automation

Interesting.

Crash: how computers are setting us up for disaster

by Tim Harford at theguardian.com

The paradox of automation, then, has three strands to it. First, automatic systems accommodate incompetence by being easy to operate and by automatically correcting mistakes. Because of this, an inexpert operator can function for a long time before his lack of skill becomes apparent his incompetence is a hidden weakness that can persist almost indefinitely. Second, even if operators are expert, automatic systems erode their skills by removing the need for practice. Third, automatic systems tend to fail either in unusual situations or in ways that produce unusual situations, requiring a particularly skilful response. A more capable and reliable automatic system makes the situation worse.

ibm-704-1954_thumb1Back in the late 1970s I was responsible for supporting an then state-of-the-art communications system (think airline reservation system) with the latest hardware and the most elegant coding. However, at that time the console for the system was a Model 33 Teletypewriter (unless, as we occasionally were forced to do, you input instructions through the front-panel toggle switches).

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Will the Church Take On Our Sins … and Our Punishments?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASouth Carolina has introduced a bill that, amongst other things, will make faith groups liable for any crimes committed by the refugees they sponsor. The idea is to legislate against terrorism but the law is too narrow in its definition.

I contend that, since religion has defined itself as the creator and manager of morality, and since committing crimes is a violation of that morality and of the public trust, all faith organizations should be held accountable for the actions of those they sponsor, and this includes their own members.

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