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Comment: Pilots will always be needed (Score 5, Interesting) 78

by bughunter (#49479483) Attached to: GAO Warns FAA of Hacking Threat To Airliners

This is why the idea of remote overrides of pilot controls is a particularly BAD idea.

A trained, qualified pilot must always have last resort authority, over any automated system and preferably even over any "assisted" system, whether it be fly by wire, hydraulic, etc. If control can be taken out of his or her hands remotely, because someone (or something) on the ground doesn't agree with the pilot's judgement, I guarantee we'll see more disasters, not fewer.

The instances where intentional pilot misconduct or hijacking occur are few, but notorious. But the instances where human pilots in the cockpit handle minor emergencies that could easily have turned into deadly ones occur regularly and we seldom hear about most of them.

Case in point: Do you think an autopilot on the ground could have heard a stowaway baggage handler?

Comment: Kudos for Musk (Score 4, Insightful) 117

by bughunter (#49474191) Attached to: SpaceX Dragon Launches Successfully, But No Rocket Recovery

This is an achievement. Take it from an old rocket grognard, a veteran of Amroc, Orbital, and others: just getting this far is an accomplishment.

And it's smart of Musk to append a test operation onto a paying mission. The launch fee for the ISS delivery offsets a major portion of the cost of the test.

And in a test sequence, close does count, because all data gathered is useful. And often, data from a failure is more useful than data from a success.

"Success is a lousy teacher; it seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose." —Bill Gates

Comment: Human In The Loop Abort (Score 5, Informative) 91

by bughunter (#49464351) Attached to: Killer Robots In Plato's Cave

I once worked on the camera portion of a semi-autonomous weapon which, once a target was designated, would continually analyze the live image to maintain, track and intercept that target. A key part of the system was a human in the loop abort, which would cause the system to veer off target before impact should the operator see something he or she didn't like: not the intended target, high probability of collateral damage, etc.

The point is, all judgements about selecting the target and aborting the mission or changing targets were in the hands of a human. The automated parts were vehicle operations, corrections for terrain and weather, tracking an operator-designated object, etc. — all things that required no risk assessment, moral judgment, ethical considerations, etc.

That's the difference between autonomous and semi-autonomous: A human identifies the target, and monitors the system to issue a stand down order as new information becomes available.

(It's also the only weapon system I ever worked on, and it caused me great conflict. Though the intended use had merit, the possible unintended uses made me very uncomfortable. No, I can't be more specific.)

Comment: Re:in the fine print ... (Score 1) 63

by bughunter (#49425149) Attached to: Radar That Sees Through Walls Built In Garage

Yes, it can cause ionization by bumping electrons around

No. Any electrons that can be "bumped" around by EM radiation with wavelengths longer than UV are already in the conduction band. In other words, the ionization already happened and any induced current occurs in "loose" electrons... or, more likely, existing ions in solution.

It's called non-ionizing radiation for a reason.

Comment: Re:Pilots must remain in control (Score 1) 385

by bughunter (#49356763) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

I agree with that. I suspect that if there had been another pilot in the cockpit at all times, Lubitz would have reconsidered his decision rather than engage in a brawl.

Punching a fatal command into a FMS s a different kind of act entirely than physically incapacitating another human, especially a colleague.

It's entirely possible that his decision was spur of the moment (2nd degree) rather than something he had been planning, or else he had been waiting for an opportunity as you describe. But without a letter or other statement intent from Lubitz, all we can do is speculate.

"You stay here, Audrey -- this is between me and the vegetable!" -- Seymour, from _Little Shop Of Horrors_