The disappearance of Flight 188. – By William Saletan – Slate Magazine

The pilots “forgot” that they were flying the airplane!

I saw that this had happened a short while ago. William Saletan has asked good questions about what happened here.

This inevitability was anticipated by an early joke of the computer era, about the world’s first fully automated flight, in which a the computer-generated recording announced, more or less, “Welcome to the world’s first computer-managed flight. You will enjoy a new world of comfort, conveniences, speed and safety on this flight. … Sit back and relax. Nothing can go wrong…can go wrong…can go wrong.”

The joke got the danger wrong. The problem is not malfunctioning computers. Nor is the problem malfunctioning people. People “malfunction” as an essential feature of our existential design, and our machines malfunction because we, imperfect and blind to our functioning, are their designers. On the other hand, our “malfunctioning” is the ground in which our freedoms are born, including what we call free will. Without malfunctioning, we have no invention, no new possibilities.

The danger is that the kind of beings we are is being redesigned by the tools and the world we have invented, and we are not observing what is happening.

This is an example of why I spoke so strongly against the metaphoric background that Jill Bolte Taylor spoke from in her poetic and inspiring TED Talk. When we are in the business of inventing what it is to be human and human futures, we should take care about what we are inventing.

Following the line of another joke, we should be careful that we do not end up where we are headed.

Tell me what you think.

Best,

Chauncey

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One thought on “The disappearance of Flight 188. – By William Saletan – Slate Magazine

  1. “The danger is that the kind of beings we are is being redesigned by the tools and the world we have invented, and we are not observing what is happening.”

    This is intriguing and has me curious about how to avoid blindly drifting down this hole you have named.

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