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Old 2nd October 2016, 21:02   #46
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Default Re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

Originally Posted by arunphilip View Post

In conclusion, I'd have to say that dumb people already exist, technology just gives people to demonstrate their brilliance or stupidity. However, designers and promoters of such technologies have to ensure that they don't oversell/hype it, and ensure that reasonable safeguards are built in
Very well put!

You have covered most of the points which I wanted to say!

Few more cases I'd like to add:
In the 80s, when I was in the school, I was a witness to a conversation with some senior people in a nationalized bank. My dad was at that time working for a nationalized bank and these people were discussing on mobilizing the union for a nation-wide strike - the reason ? to ban computers in the bank - some of their arguments were
a) it will steal their jobs
b) it will make all the bankers dumb
c) no way that the system will ever match the accuracy of manually written transaction
d) it will cause chaos in the banking as people will loose confidence in the accuracy of the banking system.
e) it will NEVER work in India! It will work on in the western countries

Mind you, these were senior people in the banks with many years of experience! Were they dumb ? No chance, they were highly intelligent and good human beings. But history has proved that ALL the points they feared were meaningless and in the current era, people can't even imagine a banking system in the old manual manner of functioning!

My Uncle was a senior accountant in one Public sector company. He used to tell stories of how the yearend period was so hectic in the late 80s and they used to slog hours and hours making the balance sheet, match! In fact they used to celebrate when this (balance sheet matches!) happens. My uncle was an M.Com and he had years of experience as accountant - Fastforward to current era - balance sheet matching, yawn - It is expected to match every day. If it doesn't an exception report automatically is thrown and it get fixed immediately. Yearend ? Is just another day for most firms!

Closer to my own experience - when I was in the school, they used to teach how to logarithamic tables. Nowadays, this is a dying knowledge - how many know this ?

Calculators was revolutionary - This made the process of accurate computation and so many types of calculators came out (This is still used, and is still valid, I might add) and this has paved the way to Excel sheets. Nowadays, I hardly use the calculator (both physical as well the computer calculator) for any caclulation involving more than 5 - 10 elements - Excel is the way to go. Did it make me dumber ? Nah, at least I like to think so!

In the late 80s and early 90s, AC in a car was luxury. I am sure some of still remember the sticker/label "A/C Vehicle - No hand signals" stuck in the car! This used to be sort of status symbol! One sure headturner!

When I first learned to drive, my favorite was Maruti zen and a M800. I had driven many many kms in this. Fastforward to now - I don't even like to take these cars for a short spin in the city! Try to park these cars - very difficult - because I got so used to power steering!

The point here is this debate is ALWAYS there whenever there is a cusp or transition of technology - when the old meets the future!

I'm real curious what the next generation (say in another 20 years) will discuss in team-bhp, they will be wondering ?:
a) How people ever drove a manual car ?
b) what is the big deal in driverless cars ?
c) how did people ever park/reverse park ? probably, a "side-movement gear" will make this excercise trivial - or even self-park!

Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
Still not convinced? See the following hour long video, which is fully supported by data. It is not a fantasy, it is already happening.
Nice video, that! Thanks! and I liked your various posts in this thread! very good thought process!

Last edited by haria : 2nd October 2016 at 21:07.
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Old 5th October 2016, 12:14   #47
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Default Re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

Totally agree on situations like autonomous driving etc. The situation not only applies to automotive industries but also many others. Off late, I see that the real craftsmanship is fading away. Most times everyone ends up replacing an entire module or components instead of repairing. Eventually we would end up having no mechanics to repair or fix faults which would eventually be an end of those sort of skills.
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Old 5th October 2016, 18:04   #48
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Default Re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

Originally Posted by dileepcm View Post
Totally agree on situations like autonomous driving etc. The situation not only applies to automotive industries but also many others. Off late, I see that the real craftsmanship is fading away. Most times everyone ends up replacing an entire module or components instead of repairing. Eventually we would end up having no mechanics to repair or fix faults which would eventually be an end of those sort of skills.
The reason is two fold
1. The modules are designed for replacement rather than repairs. For example my tail lamp assembly is a single piece moulded plastic and it is difficult to replace one glass/plastic piece. In contrast the older assemblies of Ambassador and Fiat were modular and any single piece could be replaced. The reasons are many, but mostly to do with lower manufacturing costs.

2. As the module level replacement culture catches on, craftsmen become scarce due to lack of opportunities. With rising cost of living the daily rates of craftsmen also increases. It is reasonable to expect a skilled craftsman to expect to make at least 5K a day and that translates to labour charges exceeding the cost of material repaired. It is only where the end product is expensive that paying for craftsmen is justified. Some areas where skilled (and highly paid) craftsmen are employed :
. Expensive automobiles
. High end upholstery
. High end furniture made solely from Teak, Mahogany or Rosewood
. High end clothing and accessories
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Old 11th October 2016, 14:58   #49
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A brilliant long read from theguardian.com. Very relevant for this thread. Adapted from Tim Harford’s book Messy.

Crash: how computers are setting us up for disaster

The excerpts:

The paradox of automation.

It applies in a wide variety of contexts, from the operators of nuclear power stations to the crew of cruise ships, from the simple fact that we can no longer remember phone numbers because we have them all stored in our mobile phones, to the way we now struggle with mental arithmetic because we are surrounded by electronic calculators. The better the automatic systems, the more out-of-practice human operators will be, and the more extreme the situations they will have to face.

The psychologist James Reason, author of Human Error, wrote: “Manual control is a highly skilled activity, and skills need to be practised continuously in order to maintain them. Yet an automatic control system that fails only rarely denies operators the opportunity for practising these basic control skills … when manual takeover is necessary something has usually gone wrong; this means that operators need to be more rather than less skilled in order to cope with these atypical conditions.”

The paradox of automation, then, has three strands to it. First, automatic systems accommodate incompetence by being easy to operate and by automatically correcting mistakes. Because of this, an inexpert operator can function for a long time before his lack of skill becomes apparent – his incompetence is a hidden weakness that can persist almost indefinitely. Second, even if operators are expert, automatic systems erode their skills by removing the need for practice. Third, automatic systems tend to fail either in unusual situations or in ways that produce unusual situations, requiring a particularly skillful response. A more capable and reliable automatic system makes the situation worse.

There are plenty of situations in which automation creates no such paradox. A customer service webpage may be able to handle routine complaints and requests, so that staff are spared repetitive work and may do a better job for customers with more complex questions. Not so with an aeroplane. Autopilots and the more subtle assistance of fly-by-wire do not free up the crew to concentrate on the interesting stuff. Instead, they free up the crew to fall asleep at the controls, figuratively or even literally. One notorious incident occurred late in 2009, when two pilots let their autopilot overshoot Minneapolis airport by more than 100 miles. They had been looking at their laptops.

When something goes wrong in such situations, it is hard to snap to attention and deal with a situation that is very likely to be bewildering.

In the mid-1980s, a Dutch traffic engineer named Hans Monderman was sent to the village of Oudehaske. Two children had been killed by cars, and Monderman’s radar gun showed right away that drivers were going too fast through the village. He pondered the traditional solutions – traffic lights, speed bumps, additional signs pestering drivers to slow down. They were expensive and often ineffective. Control measures such as traffic lights and speed bumps frustrated drivers, who would often speed dangerously between one measure and another.

And so Monderman tried something revolutionary. He suggested that the road through Oudehaske be made to look more like what it was: a road through a village. First, the existing traffic signs were removed. (Signs always irritated Monderman: driving through his home country of the Netherlands with the writer Tom Vanderbilt, he once railed against their patronising redundancy. “Do you really think that no one would perceive there is a bridge over there?” he would ask, waving at a sign that stood next to a bridge, notifying people of the bridge.) The signs might ostensibly be asking drivers to slow down. However, argued Monderman, because signs are the universal language of roads everywhere, on a deeper level the effect of their presence is simply to reassure drivers that they were on a road – a road like any other road, where cars rule. Monderman wanted to remind them that they were also in a village, where children might play.

So, next, he replaced the asphalt with red brick paving, and the raised kerb with a flush pavement and gently curved guttering. Where once drivers had, figuratively speaking, sped through the village on autopilot – not really attending to what they were doing – now they were faced with a messy situation and had to engage their brains. It was hard to know quite what to do or where to drive – or which space belonged to the cars and which to the village children. As Tom Vanderbilt describes Monderman’s strategy in his book Traffic, “Rather than clarity and segregation, he had created confusion and ambiguity.”

Perplexed, drivers took the cautious way forward: they drove so slowly through Oudehaske that Monderman could no longer capture their speed on his radar gun. By forcing drivers to confront the possibility of small errors, the chance of them making larger ones was greatly reduced.

Monderman, who died in 2008, was the most famous of a small group of traffic planners around the world who have been pushing against the trend towards an ever-tidier strategy for making traffic flow smoothly and safely. The usual approach is to give drivers the clearest possible guidance as to what they should do and where they should go: traffic lights, bus lanes, cycle lanes, left- and right-filtering traffic signals, railings to confine pedestrians, and of course signs attached to every available surface, forbidding or permitting different manoeuvres.

Laweiplein in the Dutch town of Drachten was a typical such junction, and accidents were common. Frustrated by waiting in jams, drivers would sometimes try to beat the traffic lights by blasting across the junction at speed – or they would be impatiently watching the lights, rather than watching for other road users. (In urban environments, about half of all accidents happen at traffic lights.) With a shopping centre on one side of the junction and a theatre on the other, pedestrians often got in the way, too.

Monderman wove his messy magic and created the “squareabout”. He threw away all the explicit efforts at control. In their place, he built a square with fountains, a small grassy roundabout in one corner, pinch points where cyclists and pedestrians might try to cross the flow of traffic, and very little signposting of any kind. It looks much like a pedestrianisation scheme – except that the square has as many cars crossing it as ever, approaching from all four directions. Pedestrians and cyclists must cross the traffic as before, but now they have no traffic lights to protect them. It sounds dangerous – and surveys show that locals think it is dangerous. It is certainly unnerving to watch the squareabout in operation – drivers, cyclists and pedestrians weave in and out of one another in an apparently chaotic fashion.

Yet the squareabout works. Traffic glides through slowly but rarely stops moving for long. The number of cars passing through the junction has risen, yet congestion has fallen. And the squareabout is safer than the traffic-light crossroads that preceded it, with half as many accidents as before. It is precisely because the squareabout feels so hazardous that it is safer. Drivers never quite know what is going on or where the next cyclist is coming from, and as a result they drive slowly and with the constant expectation of trouble. And while the squareabout feels risky, it does not feel threatening; at the gentle speeds that have become the custom, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have time to make eye contact and to read one another as human beings, rather than as threats or obstacles. When showing visiting journalists the squareabout, Monderman’s party trick was to close his eyes and walk backwards into the traffic. The cars would just flow around him without so much as a honk on the horn.

In Monderman’s artfully ambiguous squareabout, drivers are never given the opportunity to glaze over and switch to the automatic driving mode that can be so familiar. The chaos of the square forces them to pay attention, work things out for themselves and look out for each other. The square is a mess of confusion. That is why it works.
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