The Dangers of Being a Ludite

While I do worry sometimes about machines eventually getting too much control (call it the Phillip K. Dick in me), this article makes some good points of them having insufficient control.

To Err Is Human
By GEORGE JOHNSON

THEY knew all along that human fallibility had contributed to the deaths of their children. There was the well-meaning tour operator in Moscow who had delivered the students to the wrong airport, causing them to miss an earlier flight to Spain. There was the Swiss air traffic controller who happened to take a break at just the wrong moment, leaving an overworked colleague struggling to guide five different planes through his small piece of sky.

Last week, the third, decisive element was revealed to grieving Russian parents: Ordered to climb higher by the electronic voice of the cockpit’s automatic collision detector, the pilot of the children’s plane obeyed the befuddled ground controller instead. The airliner dove head-on into a DHL cargo jet — a tragedy that might have been averted if people put more faith in machines.