Friday, March 25, 2011

Air traffic controllers

Regarding the news where a couple of jets had to land without instructions from air traffic control, 'cause the controller was sleeping: why are there even humans in the loop? Coordinating the airspace and runway-use of mostly auto-piloted airplanes seems like a task that software is well-suited for. Maybe we need people on radios for those emergency situations that can't be programmed for effectively, but it seems like the default option should be for the tower's computer to communicate instructions silently to the plane's computer, regardless of whether either's operator is sleeping.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Regulation vs policing

It seems that "regulation" of industry and "policing" of industry are conflated in many people's minds, and indeed in the nomenclature of our government bureaucracies. However, I think there's an important distinction to be made between them: the former involves government planning of resource allocation, the latter involves government detection an punishment of crimes and wrongdoings. The former is hopelessly counterproductive while the latter is indispensable, so it's probably not good for our public discourse that we refer to both as "regulation."