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Airbus pitches pilotless jets -- at Le Bourget

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Airbus pitches pilotless jets -- at Le Bourget

Old 20th Jun 2019, 02:57
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Originally Posted by Luke_2
In 15-20 years probably, but now just see what the total fiasco with the 737 Max, and Airbuses crash during this decade.

Add to this possible hacking of the plane. A good reason not to trust (yet) the computers too much.
The 737 MAX fiasco is because MCAS needed to be introduced because pilots are in the co-pit - in automated flight (autopilot) MCAS is not required.

Airbus crashes in the last decade? nothing really stands out there that pilots would have saved the day.

It is far easier to protect against hacking/hijacking an aircraft without a cockpit. If a ground base change to flight plan was required it can have a delay and report mode - the main flight data with allowable deviations could be a number of hardware drives placed on the aircraft in a number of locations externally by ground staff for the days planned flights.
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 04:43
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The early successes with AI on chess programs led to a false confidence that we would have machine intelligence shortly thereafter. It was decades after the first reasonable chess playing program before we had any kind of reasonable natural language recognition, which is something that three year olds master. GO is a much more complex game than chess and it was quite an accomplishment to create programs that could win at the game, but even so it is not a very good analogy for real life. Games are significantly easier to create learning networks for than real life because with a game you have a perfect knowledge of your current state (no failed AOA sensors) and a very deterministic outcome -- you either win the game, or you lose it.

There are many challenges to the problem. Pattern recognition is one: it is easy to recognize a pattern in a game, a little harder to recognize a pattern in a picture, and I have no idea how you recognize the pattern of what your jet feels like when it is hit by wake turbulence on takeoff -- but I am sure all of the real pilots here 'instinctively' recognize that pattern and can distinguish it from the feeling of taking off from a wet runway, or in a crosswind, or what it feels like if a tire blows out on takeoff (if that is something that you practice in the sim.)

Weighing the outcome is another major difference between game play and real life. The player with the most enclosed spaces wins the game of GO, so it is pretty simple to score. When the ending condition has been met, count up the number of enclosed squares and the winner is the one with the most of them. In an excellent post earlier, a poster brought up what the "Sully" question -- with no engines, is it better to try to return to the airport with a nonzero probability of accidentally recreating 9/11, or is it better to try a water landing? How do you score the neural network's decision? If 3 times out of 10 the "return to base" scenario kills 1,000 people on the ground is that a failure? What about 3 times out of 100? What are the weather conditions? What if you are an American plane in this situation over Moscow at a time when the US and Russia are on the brink of nuclear war? Does it make a difference if the plane is full of Mexicans, or if Mitch McConnell is onboard? The neural network will faithfully reproduce whatever value decisions that you make (which is one of the real dangers of using AI for police and military work.)

There is also the question of transparency. Do the people onboard have the right to know about these value judgments? I'd certainly like to know if the automatic plane is programmed to self destruct if a failure occurs over a populated area. With a human pilot, I can be fairly sure that the decisions that are made will closely match the decisions that I would make in the same situation, since the pilot shares my fate. A computer pilot doesn't care about survival at all, and a remote pilot knows he is going home at the end of the day no matter what the outcome for the passengers.

It is a tricky issue, and I think it will be a long time before the public cottons onto self driving airplanes, and by that time we may not be able to fly anymore anyway. The problem with the AI approach is that it only works with perfect humans, of which there have been very few in history. The self driving Uber car sounds great, but who wants to get into a car in the morning that got puked all over last night?
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 05:05
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How do you integrate manned and unmanned aircraft into and out of the same runways at current capacity flow?

The controlled choas of max rate landings and departures at KEWR and similar come to mind.

Will ATC have to change? Who will fund that?

Is there enough bandwidth at enough rate globally? If not, who will pay for this? CPDLC is not fast enough for terminal operations, is it? The latest and greatest is probably not up to the task.

Pilotless planes today are not autonomous, someone does the taleoff and landing locally and those that are more automated get a huge airspace restriction around their launch and recovery.

In an unmanned combat vehicle, the weight that was the crew and life support systems becomes increased payload and firepower- do we see those first? Pilot, seat, etc weigh equal a few more missiles and have reduced physical limitations in play.

Pilotless passenger and even cargo aircraft will be clean sheet designs, yet will need all the air condtiing and pressurization systems, so they have pay for themselves just in labor costs, not weight saved and payload gained. Attractive in some principles, but someone new gets to work all the unglamorous bits of the duty.

Each paper gain comes with fresh vulnerabilities.

How will single pilot come into play? Will that also be a fresh generation of aircraft? How will that interact with ATC and bandwidth needs? Who funds that stepping stone? Customers? Governments?

Last edited by moosepileit; 20th Jun 2019 at 05:37.
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 08:36
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...set aside for dinosaurs like me that actually enjoy a brisk drive through the countryside

Is that in an MG TD, Racer?

^_^
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 14:17
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Originally Posted by moosepileit
How do you integrate manned and unmanned aircraft into and out of the same runways at current capacity flow?

The controlled choas of max rate landings and departures at KEWR and similar come to mind.

Will ATC have to change? Who will fund that?

Is there enough bandwidth at enough rate globally? If not, who will pay for this? CPDLC is not fast enough for terminal operations, is it? The latest and greatest is probably not up to the task.

Pilotless planes today are not autonomous, someone does the taleoff and landing locally and those that are more automated get a huge airspace restriction around their launch and recovery.

In an unmanned combat vehicle, the weight that was the crew and life support systems becomes increased payload and firepower- do we see those first? Pilot, seat, etc weigh equal a few more missiles and have reduced physical limitations in play.

Pilotless passenger and even cargo aircraft will be clean sheet designs, yet will need all the air condtiing and pressurization systems, so they have pay for themselves just in labor costs, not weight saved and payload gained. Attractive in some principles, but someone new gets to work all the unglamorous bits of the duty.

Each paper gain comes with fresh vulnerabilities.

How will single pilot come into play? Will that also be a fresh generation of aircraft? How will that interact with ATC and bandwidth needs? Who funds that stepping stone? Customers? Governments?
I've worked for nearly forty years in IT, having taken a doctorate along the way.

Systems routinely encounter critical failures. That's the way they are. Not simply that, but they must be maintained. Situations occur which require a patch; the specific situation was not considered at the design stage.

I've worked exclusively on mainframes. With at leas one vendor the sequence number of PTFs rolled past 99,999. A PTF is a programme temporary fix.

Now, you're an airline operator. A mail arrives. It links to a PTF. It is marked "HIPER", meaning high impact and pervasive. The software support contract with your supplier specifies that it must be supplied or your support lapses.

Do you apply it immediately to your fleet and let them fly immediately? What if it introduces a different aberrant behaviour?

The problem is that it might not be just one of your fleet which fails. It could be many.

I must repeat that if you don't maintain software currency your system *will* in time fail. Other users will encounter failures not yet suffered by you, and it may involve circumstances that you may meet in the future.

Hell, systems developed over decades to process something as simple as a bank balance fall over.

It's not simply that I wouldn't fly in an autonomous plane; I would refuse to have any part in any such development project.

Don't get me started on AI.
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 15:01
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Would someone kindly define AI for me? The politicians bang on about how it will save the world and any manufacturer claims his product is superior due to AI. But what is AI other than repetitive computing and machine learning? Doesnt quite sound either sexy nor mind blowing......
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 16:12
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Originally Posted by homonculus
Would someone kindly define AI for me? The politicians bang on about how it will save the world and any manufacturer claims his product is superior due to AI. But what is AI other than repetitive computing and machine learning? Doesnt quite sound either sexy nor mind blowing......
My experience of it is that there is a lot of probability involved. Baye's stuff. I backed away from it the moment I encountered it first.

In the drive to autonomous operation the issue with the MAX stands as a lesson. The key word in AI is that word "Artificial".
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 16:12
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How will that interact with ATC and bandwidth needs?
The answer to that is probably here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starli...constellation)

As far as pilotless passenger aircraft go I suspect that by the time we have an AI based computer that can handle any event as well as a human pilot it will have bought itself a big watch and done away with humanity.
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 16:22
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Originally Posted by homonculus
Would someone kindly define AI for me? The politicians bang on about how it will save the world and any manufacturer claims his product is superior due to AI. But what is AI other than repetitive computing and machine learning? Doesnt quite sound either sexy nor mind blowing......
This is the best examination I've read so far - and I've done a lot of reading on it.




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Old 20th Jun 2019, 16:35
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There are ethical issues involved

Someone mentioned earlier the trolley problem. It was apt. Your child is in that field beside the field with ten people. Who decides on the decision to crash into that field with one child? The software design team? The programmer? The manufacturer? The operator? Will these ethical decisions be decided on in committees? Will these have joint liability?
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 16:42
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Originally Posted by Nialler
Someone mentioned earlier the trolley problem. It was apt. Your child is in that field beside the field with ten people. Who decides on the decision to crash into that field with one child? The software design team? The programmer? The manufacturer? The operator? Will these ethical decisions be decided on in committees? Will these have joint liability?
That problem is examined and answered so well in that book above as he mulls over Asimov's Three Laws.
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 16:56
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I can see it now...

Currently -
Both pilots get food poisoning, are ill, hostess comes into cabin "Can anyone fly a plane???"

In 20 years time -
Computer gets Blue Screen of Death, hostess comes into cabin "Can anyone program a computer - to fly a plane???"
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 17:59
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Originally Posted by a_q
I can see it now...

Currently -
Both pilots get food poisoning, are ill, hostess comes into cabin "Can anyone fly a plane???"

In 20 years time -
Computer gets Blue Screen of Death, hostess comes into cabin "Can anyone program a computer - to fly a plane???"
Maybe not in twenty years time but eventually the answer will be;

Passenger comes forward with his own computer..."No, but this computer here can fly the plane."
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 18:12
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Originally Posted by homonculus
Would someone kindly define AI for me?
Computers making decisions that have real-life consequences.

A bit like autopilots have been doing for the last 60-odd years.

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Old 20th Jun 2019, 18:20
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK
Computers making decisions that have real-life consequences.

A bit like autopilots have been doing for the last 60-odd years.
And there it is - the crux of the matter.

Computers making decisions? - or dumbly following programmed code.

There's an awfully big difference.

Your AP is an example of the latter btw.

Autopilots can't author their own algorithms. Therefore they are dumb followers of programmed code.
Making them no more "intelligent' than your washing-machine.
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 18:55
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What happens when the sensors send the autopilots a load of conflicting information? The Autopilots kick out and hand the a/c over to you.
What would a pilotless a/c do in that situation?
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 19:33
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Originally Posted by Nialler
Someone mentioned earlier the trolley problem. It was apt. Your child is in that field beside the field with ten people. Who decides on the decision to crash into that field with one child? The software design team? The programmer? The manufacturer? The operator? Will these ethical decisions be decided on in committees? Will these have joint liability?
You have been reading too many newspaper articles named “brave pilots were struggling at controls in a desperate attempt to avoid an orphanage”. In real live no one is avoiding anything, just a matter of choosing a place where is more suitable than other, but even that is extremely rare in a real live, usually it is a boring CFIT.
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 19:55
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Originally Posted by Auxtank
Autopilots can't author their own algorithms.
Happily, that's true.

AI, on the other hand does indeed "author its own algorithms".

In other words, when a flight under the control of AI meets a situation that hasn't specifically been foreseen by the programmers, nobody can predict WTF it's going to do.
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 20:00
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK
Happily, that's true.

AI, on the other hand does indeed "author its own algorithms".

In other words, when a flight under the control of AI meets a situation that hasn't specifically been foreseen by the programmers, nobody can predict WTF it's going to do.

And, equally happy as you; that has hasn't happened yet. Because there are no truly AI Autopilots operating - defence experiments aside - yet.
Even the Airbus at Le Bourget was confined by it's programming. It had no free will whatsoever; it was analysing data input and responding with it's pre-programmed instructional code.

Sorry, that's not AI - it's on a level with your toaster on which you spread your breakfast marmalade.

Last edited by Auxtank; 20th Jun 2019 at 21:14.
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 21:44
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Originally Posted by OPENDOOR
How will that interact with ATC and bandwidth needs?The answer to that is probably here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starli...constellation).
Problems with that is that we are slowly building a single point of failure; the communications with Sats. Signals from Sats are very weak and can easily be jammed or spoofed or hijacked. Relying only on Sats for Navigation/ position , communications , separation ( anti collision) and now autonomous operations is not a very good option, especially in today's world getting more and more dangerous each day.
In le Bourget this week, in various panel discussions, the onus seem to be on terrestrial 5G or even 6G data transfers using clouds based in strange places like the arctic. We need a back up to satellites and think differently.

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