Get Humans Out of the Cockpit

Holman Jenkins thinks transportation ought to be automated

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 10, 2013 1:55 PM CDT

(Newser) – When a highly automated train crashed into a Quebec town last weekend, its conductor was not on board. Which raises a few questions, writes Holman Jenkins at the Wall Street Journal. Why couldn't the train tell headquarters it had taken off? Why couldn't headquarters stop it from afar? And most fundamentally, "Why does a train need an operator?" The same question came to mind in the Asiana crash, in which human pilots appear to have been relying on a system that was down at the time.

Humans pilots are losing a dangerous amount of skill as they rely on the computers, and "operating a train, a plane or a car is arguably becoming a poor use of human capital anyway." Yes, unemployment is high now, but as our population ages, we'll soon have a workforce crunch. Fully automated transportation is necessary, and seemingly inevitable with Google already advancing self-driving cars. "If computers ever get the vote, they will quickly vote the rest of us off the road as the major hazard to their safely zooming around." Click for the full column.

Two pilots sit in a Boeing 787 simulator in this file photo.
Two pilots sit in a Boeing 787 simulator in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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