That Annoying “Check Engine´ Light

What does it even mean? Why is it doing that and what am I supposed to do now?

Welcome to the world of useless overkill

Just because we are able to do certain things technologically, doesn’t mean we necessarily enhance our lives by doing so. Case in point, Bill Gates’ 60,000 square foot house that is so techy that no one wants to live in it. Older and less techy, but blindingly infuriating are TVs that require not one, but two multi-button, hand-held, unintuitive thing-a-ma-jigs to operate. Jesus Christ, all I want to do is change channels and adjust the volume.

Overkill is now part of our killing machines

“America’s Sixth-Generation Fighter Could Change Warfare As We Know It”

Well, I guess that’s positive anyway, because warfare the way we currently know it (and practice it) has been disappointingly unproductive these past sixty years.

Call me a spoil-sport, but I’m suspect. We’ve been told and told and told that victory was in our grasp, only to find the thing-a-ma-jig that was going to save our ass was lost somewhere under a damned sofa-cushion.

I now have a new theory

Our greatest threat is not China or North Korea, it’s artificial intelligence (AI).

We should have known by the name. It’s not real intelligence, the kind of thing that would allow us to operate a TV without searching the sofa-cushions and screaming at our children. It’s artificial– not arising from natural growth or characterized by vital processes.

Whoever talked us into touch-screens in the center of our dashboards, gadgets that sit on our coffee-table named Alexa that answer stupid shit we ask and call-centers that won’t answer the phone? The damned ‘check engine’ light was bad enough.

Sixty-six years ago I bought my first new car, a 1955 Chevrolet BelAir two-door hardtop. It had power steering and brakes, air conditioning, a signal-seeking radio, power windows and one function even cars today cannot claim—you could actually lift the hood and work on it.

In 66 years, cars have not substantially improved on that Chevvy, with the possible exception that they are now designed in wind-tunnels and uniformly look like bars of soap with wheels. Plus, you can’t fix them, just replace something they call modules. And we call that progress.

Anyone here in favor of nodes?

“AI will help the plane not only connect with other nodes but also organize and share relevant real-time data with human pilots.”

Well that’s encouraging. Note that the plane is sharing all this shit with ‘human’ pilots, which is techno-speak that humans are dispensable in the lesson-plan.

“In fact, a 2017 paper from a sixteen-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) conglomerate of analysts, called the Joint Air Power Competence Center, raises questions about when and how AI may outpace the human ability to keep up. The essay, titled “Air Warfare Communication in a Networked Environment,” quotes former U.S. Air Force Acquisition Executive William Roper from his previous role directing the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, saying, “AI is progressing beyond the human ability to interface with it.

In simpler language, that means in the midst of speed-of-sound combat, pilots may be searching the sofa-cushions for answers.

Check out our current F-35 disaster

It’s a software-based aircraft, and any software-based platform is going to be susceptible to hacking,” Brigadier General Stephen Jost, director of the Air Force F-35 Integration Office, told Defense News in November 2018. He noted that systems such as ALIS, as well as the Joint Reprogramming Environment, were “nodes of vulnerability” and that defenses had to be shored up.”

Ah yes, those troublesome ‘nodes.’ And in another case,

“An unstable approach, a misaligned helmet and an “overwhelmed” flight control system led to the crash of an Air Force F-35 at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida last May. An Air Force accident report released a few weeks ago found plenty of fault with the pilot’s actions but it was ultimately the airplane that wouldn’t allow itself to be saved. The plane’s overworked processor set the horizontal stabilizers to the “default” position of trailing edge down just as the pilot initiated a go-around to try his landing again. When the aircraft didn’t respond to firewalled throttle and full back pressure on the stick, the pilot ejected and the plane rolled, caught fire and disintegrated. The pilot suffered minor injuries and the aircraft, worth $175,983,949, became a debris field.”

As Donald Rumsfeld said, “shit happens.”

Back to the Sixth Generation Fighter

“So what will become critically important is creating information out of this vast amount of data. So to manage all of this data, you’re gonna need performance processing that’s supported by artificial intelligence and machine learning,” Tomek Rys the director for Communications & Airspace Management Systems under the umbrella Raytheon Intelligence & Space, said at a special Raytheon sixth-generation aircraft focused webinar.

For instance, “smart sensors” able to gather, analyze and organize vast volumes of combat information in milliseconds, using AI-fortified algorithms, are now being built into airframes themselves to combine new sensing technology without increasing an aircraft’s radar signature.

Leave it to Ratheon to cover Ratheon’s ass at a webinar.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning has shown itself to be far from fault-free at Facebook, Google and the many social media platforms that use (or try to use) it.

The only difference here is, for pilots, we’re looking for answers at the speed of sound with someone hot on their ass with every intention to kill them.

Those answers are somewhere under that damned sofa-cushion.

 

 


Image Credit: nationalinterest.org

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