Preventing The Pilot-Going-Nuts Syndrome with Machine Learning & Remote Control
We have a new thing to worry about in the skies. In the 1950's, it was airline crashes because metal fatigue and cabin pressurization was not that well understood. In the 1960's, we had the airline celebrity extirpation phase, taking out stars like Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, the Big Bopper, Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Otis Redding and boxer Rocky Marciano to boot. In the 1970's we started having hijackings to Cuba, and terrorists attacks that continued until the present day. We have had underwear bombers, crashing planes into skyscrapers, bombs R us, ground to air missiles and all sorts of imaginative ways to take airliners out of the sky. And now we have a new threat in the skies -- The Pilot Going Nuts Syndrome. It probably happened on Malaysian Airlines MH370 and we have the GermanWings pilot deliberately crashing into the Alps.
The Pilot-Going-Nuts Syndrome is totally stoppable with Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and a bit of remote control.
For example, we now have drones taking off from Alabama, flying to the Middle East, blasting a terrorist in his tent upwards to meet his Allah in pieces and collect his virgins in some godforsaken place and then the drone flies home while the operator is eating a pulled pork sandwich somewhere in a bunker near Huntsville (irony in the name as well). So the ability for remote control is well established.
Now let's take machine learning. After an airplane flies a route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf ten times, any machine-learning program knows the flight plan by rote. Even Microsoft's Azure platform in the throes of the Blue Screen of Death, is smart enough to learn that route. So if you embed a program like that into the avionics, and you input the flight plan in as well, any Pilot-Going-Nuts sufferer could be thwarted.
The minute that Co-Pilot Cuckoo For CocoaPuffs tries to take the plane off autopilot in direct deviation of the flight plan (especially at cruising altitude), the smart avionics notifies Air Traffic Control and asks for a OK semaphore. In the meantime, the computer says to Lieutenant CocoaPuffs "I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that". In case of real emergency, any major deviation to the flight plan could be done using biometric authentication of both pilots like fingerprints or iris scan. Having both pilots go crazy is a huge longshot, unless their turbans are made from the ISIS flag. The double authentication is that if one pilot uses the loo, the plane and passengers are not sh*t-out-of-luck if the other one takes leave of his senses.
This is so easy to fix, I don't know why its not a slam dunk. The only reason that I can think of, is that taking a chance with batsh*t crazy pilots is a lot cheaper than refitting aircraft with anti-crazy avionics. However the system will pay for itself by preventing just two airplane annihilations by apesh*t crazy, maniacal sky jockeys.
Self-driving cars are first, and self-flying planes will be next. And twenty years later, we will even have self-cleaning toilets. It will follow the same trajectory as we put a man on the moon in 1969, and luggage never got wheels until the late 1980's. In the meantime, tonight I am painting huge Rorschach ink blots on my carry-on luggage, and if any of the flight crew gets googley-eyed or starts to salivate when seeing my luggage, I am getting off. The momentary upgrade to first class when the plane hits the mountain is not worth it.