Over the years some of my colleagues and I have cautioned against placing too much faith in systems that insert an electronic link between the operator and the controls of aircraft. Such systems are called “fly by wire” (the “wire” being the electronic link). Electronic linkages in recent years have started appearing in automobiles, so we now have “drive by wire,” where the wire replaces the old mechanical throttle linkage.
Why are some engineers such as myself so cautious? Because we are the ones who do the detailed design and analysis and testing, and we know the risks. We have predicted and observed the damage caused by glitches in electronic linkages, such as power outages over large parts of the country, patients erroneously exposed to deadly doses of radiation during medical scans, and various other catastrophes.
Sometimes new technology seems cool, but sometimes it’s also half-baked and contains hidden risk. To protect yourself, here’s a saying that may help:
Don’t Be The First One To Stick Your Toe In The Water,
Unless You’ve Got A Toe To Spare