Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Brain retrain

As mentioned before, people like forward progress. As any pedestrian will tell you, the zombie-driven car will proceed despite the walker's presence, many times not even making any acknowledgement of awareness. What did the guy say the other day after he stopped, red-faced, and apologized? 'I didn't see you.' As in, his attention was elsewhere.

Well, the opposite of forward is what? Well, it's jam on the brake for any event that might be problematic in order to 1) react normally, 2) allow time to get data that was being ignored, and 3) perhaps, prevent some nasty event. Yes, we see the rear end collisions all the time that are, in part, related to this need to 'stop the world now' (of course, nod to Bill Buckley).

Now, in the past, people locked up their brakes by doing this jamming. In many situations, there were undesired side-effects. So, people, the car companies gave you the anti-lock brake. It is a computer system that tries to prevent wheel lock, and skid, while effectively stopping the vehicle. So, your brake pedal becomes a switch, essentially. And, these systems have gotten better.

At the same time, systems started to support other functions. Now, we see that the accelerator was one of these (see Toyota's issues).

Yet, there was no re-training of the brain to account for system limitations. You see, there is no brake system that will respond like the old hydraulic type. Why? For it to do so, it would have to be in control and continually assessing the situation via sensors.

And, that means processing this data in a reasonable, and quick, manner. Not easily done, folks.

But, there is a lesson that we could learn. Leave space to allow reaction. Isn't that already on the list? Meaning, do not tailgate? Too, anticipate and give the computer some lead time. Oh wait! The whole idiocy of texting while driving, and the like, counter such a state as these activities negate any chance for being aware.

Accidents, and similar side effects, have not been sufficient for people to learn the necessary habits. Perhaps, knowing about system limitations would help. Why? It elevates the thing from choice matter (ah, those who love the freedom to trash other peoples' lives) to that more intellectual (the lesson ought to be within the grasp on any who gets behind the wheel).

Now, we have seen issues with acceleration and braking with modern vehicles that were supposedly perfect. Well, perfection cannot be attained. It's an operational issue and needs to be handled as such. Too, the possible problems are a growing set.

We need to make visible the system-related issues so that we can identify and teach the necessary attitudes and postures for safe, and effective, driving. That, of course, assumes that the manufactures, and their engineers, really keep themselves up on all the potential issues. Can we show that?

Ah, yes, value versus quality. Dumb! These are not reciprocal, folks.


01/22/2013 -- USA Today story on settlements. From three years ago, lest we forget.

02/08/2011 -- There was a report today concerning a study on the SUA problem that has been going on quietly. More news will be coming later when the report is technically analyzed.

10/07/2010 -- Several principles need to be explored, such as the ergodic one.

04/19/2010 -- Genies, no not genius, indeed!

03/09/2010 -- Can of worms is what we've gotten from letting the genie out of the bottle.

02/10/2010 -- We could probably use the auto (and recent events) as a way to characterize the concepts of the blog. Of course, we have the value versus quality mis-think as part of the problem. Business Week reports that Toyota was asking suppliers for a 10% cut. Well, such scrimping would have an effect, even if it was only in looks. However, cutting into the life of a system may appear smart but, actually, relies on the same unstable basis as does a lot of economic thinking.

Modified: 01/22/2013