Thursday, December 17, 2009

Forward progress

What does 'forward progress' mean? Well, there are several things to look at.

For instance, the 787 program exhibited this with the recent first flight (congratulations are in order). As we've said before, complex projects are never easy. Assuming forward motion, at all times, may be problematic since it is really a measurement issue along many dimensions.

Too, some games use the notion, like American football. Here things are little easier to discern, as usually any motion goal is one-dimensional.

Actually, the point of this post is to relate some observation about pedestrians in an automotive society. But, first, let's look at drivers.

Has the world gone crazy? That is, does getting behind the wheel cause some type of idiocy to manifest itself? Well, given that the texting craze has influenced some drivers may indicate so.

That is, who, in their right mind, would not pay close attention when hurling through space, albeit more limited than flying, to the current situation and what is there? Would you drive while blinded? Of course not would say the rational person.

Somehow, using a cell phone, especially with texting, causes some cognitive state change that is analogous to being blind. Even if the state is not as extreme as one might think, the distraction does interfere with assessing situational issues.

Of course, many states have been working to place limits on this type of idiocy. So, we can talk another aspect.

Ever notice how some type of 'forward progress' trance, for drivers, seems to inhibit an act that is so minor that one has to wonder what gives? That is, moving the foot from the accelerator, not necessarily to the brake, seems to be an impossible task.

And, it is so easy to lift the foot from the gas pedal. Yet, failure to do so can make the pedestrians life so uncertain. Now, the driver, in some cases, may be in some type of mindset that does not allow for the walker and that keeps the driver from seeing some on foot. We know that bikers have this problem since their presence may not even register in some car drivers' awareness or that there may be some negative attitude on the part of some car drivers.

And, that type of blindness can happen without the cell phone (tweets) or other distractions. We could use concepts like cognitive inertia, perhaps, where the dissonance comes from not allowing for the walker (or any moving object other than the same type, that is, 4-wheeled) within the worldview.

Some states give the pedestrian the right of way. Others may have the rule that the walker needs to be extremely cautious which does make sense in that those on foot are much more vulnerable.

Which brings up an issue. Is it just that being surrounded by this casing which is the car causes a feeling of invincibility, by necessity? Then, the dynamic becomes a type of hypothetical bumper car game where the driver just hopes that noone takes up their challenge?

This little bit has no goal except to try to phrase some issue that is problematic. There have been people run down who are highly protected by law, namely highway workers, which is really hard to understand. Too, troopers have been hit, however one could account for this, in part, due to the circumstance of high-speed sections where the cognitive look ahead is already impaired. It's like having to make real-time judgments ex post facto (can't work, folks, hence we have a growing need for simulation which can only go so far).

So, initiatives, like Lean, focus on removing causes; that is, eliminate the error possibility. Or, in my time, the best driving rule was to be defensive (for the younger folks, one key point is to pay attention).

But, for the walker, in an urban, or suburban, environment, where the auto does not have the right to claim either presence priority (oh yes, perhaps by being bigger - that's bullying) or speed rights (nope, everywhere that is in a developed country limits vehicular speed where people are expected to be), things can get pretty dire.

There are many questions to pose. One of these would look at that forward progress, or momentum, cognitive state and try to understand why the foot/leg cannot surmount the forces that keep the foot on the accelerator (ignoring, for the moment, that there can be real problems, ala Toyota's little thing).

First of all, we need some clever phrase to depict the condition. Then, we can look at the physiological and psychological (note the order) issues involve.

Needless to say, that little inertial force, whatever it is called, has been the culprit in countless, and costly, accidents (er, oops).


06/11/2011 -- Was called 'forward progress' as there seems to be type of inertia related to moving one's foot from the gas to the brake. What else, except not wanting one's flow in time interrupted? Another thing is that the walker is in the elements. The driver is protected from rain and sleet and ... (evidently, not from stupidity). Though a worker, not a walker, the recent tragedy tells a whole lot.

09/21/2010 -- Facebook, as metaphor.

02/09/2010 -- We need to retrain the driving brain. Where is there an auto user group?

01/02/2010 -- More states now have laws prohibiting (or limiting) driving while texting (dwt). Why did it require legal action? Common sense ought to have been enough, yet the appeal of the abstract and computation (sirens abound in the domains) are very strong.

12/21/2009 -- Some recent events point to the problem.
  • 1) Picture a busy intersection; 4-way stop; woman sits in car texting; at least, 5 cycles of cars stopping and going pass by and she sits texting; and given the season, the cars behind her didn't honk, probably wondering what was the hold-up.
  • 2) Picture an area that is multi-purpose and suburban with a winding road; posted speed is about 30 mph; pedestrian waiting to cross as a string of cars go by; count 'em -- a-one, a-two, ...; all pass by with none even noticing the walker; and, needless to say, none stopped to let the walker go across the road.
  • 3) Same situation as 2), except lo and behold, the other day some one did stop, causing cars behind to stop, too -- as well, restarting the counter. So, that's several 1000s crossings of that road, with about 1/4 having traffic. Out of those 1/4 of 100s, the stoppers could be counted on a couple of hands.
Modified: 06/11/2011

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