Nat Geo’s air crash investigation series gives a good deal of idea behind what went wrong behind an air crash or failure. I was watching one of the episodes which was about the rudder malfunction of Northwest Airlines Flight 85 and how the pilots kept such a large plane in control and landed it safely. All the pilots in that plane continued to fly the plane by adjusting the engine thrust and ailerons to fly to the nearest airport and land safely.
As per the captain’s account it was a very tough thing to fly such a large plane manually. The captain is also a flight instructor so he had a sound understanding of the dynamics of the plane. When interviewed he said “Learning to fly manually is an art, sadly that is a dying art“. Increasingly planes are being designed and manufactured to fly themselves most of the times. This makes the lives of the pilots so easy that most part of the journey is assisted by the machines. But when the machines fail or not designed to handle failures, can humans take over?
What happens to other professions where there is an ever increasing assistance provided by the computers and machines? The result must be the same; when something goes terribly wrong; then there will be a disconnect between the man and the machine. From that point onwards it will be just trial and error handling if there is no deeper understanding of the system.
I read this article on leaky abstractions longtime ago. The author states that if something non trivial is abstracted then the abstraction will be leaky and put us in a spot. This article also prompted me to dive deeper into something if I am learning new. It is really tempting to hang on to the hello world examples & the new hello world of GUI “To do lists” and get away with a feeling that I have got a fair exposure. If I just learn that but not spend enough time to understand the internals, then I would be in a bad spot someday when I least expect.