quarta-feira, 9 de abril de 2014

Morality is Always on the Side of the Machine: Deep Stall over the South Atlantic: The Crash of Air France 447 by John David Ebert

Airbus`s murderous hubris at the botton of the South Atlantic :
"Airbus machines DON´T just fall out of the skies."

Airbus´s sidestick "fly-by.wire"

Boeing´s pneumatic stick shaker stall warning

St. Elmo's fire ghostly illuminates the cockpit, filled with the smell of ozone, as the plane was already flying through a severe thunderstorm system

"Anti World The Cabin as scenario
“Stepping back from the glare of the wreckage in order to gain some perspective on this catastrophe, we now turn to the world of books and discourse in order to remind ourselves of Heidegger’s point that, when a tool breaks, such as a hammer, it becomes suddenly conspicuous, standing out from the contextual background of its web of referentiality. “When a thing in the world around us becomes unusable,” Heidegger states, it becomes conspicuous. The natural course of concern is brought to a halt by this unusability. The continuity of reference and thus the referential totality undergoes a distinctive disturbance which forces us to pause. When a tool is damaged and useless, its defect actually causes it to be present, conspicuous, so that it now forces itself into the foreground of the environing world in an emphatic sense.”
The Age of Catastrophe Disaster and Humanity in Modern Times, p.43 

The Air France crash had been carefully constructed in many other previous incidents in recent years to become the paradigm itself of a systemic failure in the interface man/machine. It is described, as Gérard Arnoux, the head of the French pilots union SPAF, depicts, as a “computer brain stroke”. Let us begin with your Heidegger´s quote above in the chapter on Tenerife, with the "broken hammer" As Heiner Müller once said , morality is always on the side of the machine, because I would like you to start with BEA final report and political compromise between Airbus and its partners, the most concession the Corporation could allow itself and the key word in this report is the alternate regime “Flight Director”, that induced the pilots to a catastrophic chain of errors. They slavishly followed Flight Director pitch-up commands, ignoring 58 stall warnings in a ghostly environment, simply because “Airbus did not just fall from the sky” in Flight Director mode. They cannot, says the industry. When you buy an Airbus ticket, this mantra should be printed on the cover. I invite you, Ebert, to reconstruct, not in a simulator, but in a Pynchon´s entropic environment these tragic three minutes and a half as an eternal return, a symphony and cacophony of death, that opened a new age in the aviation . Without a pneumatic stick shaker, as in all Boeing machines, the pilots would never had a real chance, in this progressive unrealistic scenario as the deep stall swiftly unfolds, to feel, with their own hands, in dual input mode, the violence of the fall.

1. With Air France Flight 447, I think we have to keep in mind that two structural couplings which are normally essential for flying the plane came undone, or uncoupled: the first of those is the seamless fusion that must occur between the pilots and the new and highly automated flight systems. The pilot must nowadays form a "machinic assemblage" with the automated system, such that both pilot and computer are locked into a relationship of "structural coupling." The pilot's consciousness, that is to say, is not self-enclosed but ruptured into the feedback loop in which the plane's central nervous system must become an extension of his own. This is a kind of modern Centauric fusion, not of animal and man, but of man and machine.

But what happened in this case seems to have been the very opposite of the situation with Captain Van Zanten at Tenerife, where the problem was precisely that he was totally fused with the machine to the point that he could take no other data into account. In the case of Flight 447, the structural coupling of human consciousness with the plane's electronic nervous system was disrupted and the pilots were abruptly exiled from the plane's feedback systems. If this theory is correct, it is because of the freezing of external Pitot tubes on the plane that caused the computer to lose the ability to calculate the plane's speed, and without that data, it had a "nervous breakdown" and lost its orientation, immediately shutting down the autopilot and all the plane's automated systems.

But this had the effect of abruptly exiling the consciousness of the pilots from machinic fusion with the plane's nervous system and they suddenly found their own consciousnesses on the "outside" as it were of the plane's internal consciousness and had to abruptly switch to manual flying techniques, but it does not appear that they were able to do this fast enough to avoid the plane's going into a stall.

And that's the second structural coupling that came undone: normally, as you know, planes stay in the air because of the structural coupling between the angle of their wings and the airflow that engages them. But if the plane slows down by as much as a mere 10 knots, the angle of the wing changes and breaks the engagement with the aerodynamic flow over the wings and goes into a stall, which may have happened in this case. The pilots, overwhelmed with data from the shutdown of all the plane's automated systems, could not regain control of the plane quickly enough to avoid the stall, and the plane simply fell into the ocean at that point.

So the situation seems to be the opposite to what happened at Tenerife in which Van Zanten got stuck in his machinic fusion with the aircraft. Here the pilots were suddenly exiled from the plane's interior consciousness and were overwhelmed with too much data coming at them too quickly to process and also maintain the necessary pitch and power to keep the plane in the air.

Relying on automation, it seems, has become a problem for pilots these days, who wind up being poorly trained with regard to manual emergency situations. The automation is a nervous system that can act as a buffer between the pilot and the actual physical body of the plane itself, which further and further distances his consciousness from the necessary structural coupling with the aircraft to control it.

Automation tends to create electronic feedback loops that leave human decision-making out of account. We are creating a global world civilization that is always on "auto-pilot" and has therefore created the danger of rendering humans, with their old-fashioned philosophical free wills, superfluous to the automated functioning of these systems. Leaving the human being, with his Kantian-Schopenhauerian free will out of account, is creating an accident prone civilization in which free will cannot be injected quickly enough to keep up with the speed-of-light decision-making processes of the machines themselves.

Free will, according to Kant, actually injects new causal sequences into the world's otherwise predetermined cause and effect programs, but these machines are attempting to replicate those causal sequences of matter that do not leave room for the sudden injection of fresh causal sequences by the human will. We are slowly and gradually tightening up the civilization to the point that human freedom is now superfluous and there is, consequently, no room for it in the System taken as a whole. We are creating a civilization, in other words, that stands philosophically opposed to all the great antinomies of German Idealism and rejects them as incompatible with the System.
"The sharpest ideology is that reality appeals to its realistic character" (Alexander Kluge), since the German Idealism, since Clausewitz´s absolute concept of pure war. Let us talk about "overthinking" in the context of Frank Schirrmacher´s Thesis (Deputy Chief of FAZ) "Die Auswanderung des Denkens von dem Gehirn" (The Emmigration of the Thought from the Brain) (here is the interview: http://www.carta.info/22535/schirrmacher-kluge-algorithmen-geben-niemals-auf/). Kluge begins the interview with a “thought experiment” at the dawn of the Verdun Battle. No one could hardly suppose at that moment what a powerful and apocalyptic “idea” lies on the horizon, namely the “total war” (as “Materialschlacht”, “the war of materials and elements”), as Ernst Jünger would later immortalize in his writings. He means also, in this new digital world, there are only algorithms at work in a hyperspace, as in the Matrix. Algorithms give never up! They build up what you are, what you feel and what you think. We are not anymore in the realm of the classical thinking subject. Thinking itself becomes an obsolete category in the geometry of this new space, which is real time, there is no way to fix any individual historicity, historical consciousness, only flatness. Which kind of overthinking is at work at the AF 447 cabin in these three and half minutes?

As far as your second question goes, I believe I have actually answered it inadvertently in my answer to your first question, but for the sake of thoroughness, I will reiterate: the kind of thinking that has taken over in the situation with Air France 447 is precisely the dominance of pre-programmed "algorithmic thinking" that leaves no room for the injection of Freedom of the Will in any German Idealistic sense. That Abyss of Freedom which Schelling built his whole philosophy of the subject out of does not exist in the civilization of global algorithms which simply propagate themselves like mathematical viruses and end up paving over the Abgrund, or abyss from out of which Freedom accesses singularities of Thought. The Matrix covers up the abysses of German Idealism, just as it paves over Heidegger's Being, and attempts to substitute pre-programmed thinking and decisions in advance, which leave human autonomy out of account.

Human Freedom has now become a deconstructed relic in the post-metaphysical age, simply tossed aside into the middenheap (as pictured in the robot junk heap in the movie "A.I.") as one more discarded Idea along with all the others of the metaphysical age. The Subject has been hollowed out, and the walls of the newly formed hollow are inscribed with fresh programs that substitute the behaviors and thoughts of the cyborgianized human being in place of the classical philosophical Subject.

It is no longer what "I" think that matters, since the "I" that once formed the ontological basis for the Subject is no longer there and has left behind only a semiotic vacancy; but only what the Machinic Assemblage of Global Civilization thinks FOR me and on my behalf that matters. What I would do in this particular situation (any situation) does not matter, but what I-as-embedded-in-the-Matrix would do is all that counts. Autonomy is now regarded with suspicion and autonomous individuals who question the System, such as whistleblowers like Assange or Snowden, for instance, are regarded as heretics for daring to demonstrate anything remotely like critical thinking.

Unfortunately, I think the pilots on Flight 447 found that when their Matrix-embedded-I's were suddenly expelled from the machinic consciousness, there was no autonomous "I" left there for them to rely upon because there was no protocol for it in their training. They discovered in the matter of just a few seconds that the philosophical "I" that should have served them with autonomous thinking was gone and simply not there for them to use.

Hence, the problem of the elimination of the philosophical "I" in contemporary global civilization is that it can, and often does, lead to catastrophes of this sort in which machinic consciousness, together with its programs, does not match the program of human autonomy, which it has already a priori come to regard as superfluous.

Thank you very much, John David Ebert!

In memory of all the passengers and crew of Air France flight 447


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