Captain Sullenberger Hudson

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pages: 175 words: 54,028

Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson by William Langewiesche


Air France Flight 447, Airbus A320, airline deregulation, Bernard Ziegler, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, crew resource management, New Journalism, US Airways Flight 1549, William Langewiesche

But safety aside, no pilot of whatever mental capacity enters the profession expecting to see his income cut, particularly when airline executives continue to increase their own compensation, as they have. This is what Sullenberger was legitimately complaining about to Congress. Ever since airline deregulation in the United States in 1978, which did away with route monopolies and noncompetitive pricing, and especially since the terrorist attacks of September 2001, which had all sorts of profound effects on the industry, most major American airlines have been miserable places to work. Two days after the Hudson River landing, accident investigators interviewed the pilots in New York’s Marriott Downtown hotel, near the site of the former World Trade Center. They started with Sullenberger’s copilot, Jeffrey Skiles, age forty-nine, a man with twenty thousand hours of flight time, who had briefly served as the captain of a smallish Fokker twin-jet but had essentially been relegated to the position of copilot for his entire career because of successive reductions in the company ranks.

The Escape New York, January 15, 2009 It was a wintry Thursday afternoon, and the city had turned inward on itself against the cold. On Manhattan’s west side, a few people who happened to be looking toward the Hudson River caught a glimpse of an airline accident that initially brought back memories of another case, eight years earlier, of airplanes crashing into the heart of New York. This time it was US Airways Flight 1549, an Airbus A320 that ran into a flock of geese, lost thrust from both engines, and glided without power to a safe landing in the Hudson’s frigid waters. The Department of Homeland Security flashed its badges, but only as bureaucracies do. There were no foreign terrorists here. The geese were innocent birds. The captain was the very definition of a good citizen, a man named Chesley Sullenberger whose life until now had been so uneventful that many of his peers at US Airways had overlooked his presence.

He knew that the left engine was still producing electrical power, and perhaps some small amount of thrust, and he balked at shutting it down until first trying the right engine, which was contributing nothing at all. Sullenberger implicitly agreed. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; if it is broke, you’ve got nothing to lose from trying. Skiles switched off the right engine only. Reading from the checklist, he said, “Wait thirty seconds.” Sullenberger made his announcement to the cabin. He said, “This is the captain. Brace for impact.” The flight attendants started shouting, “Brace! Brace! Heads down! Stay down!” Because they could not see outside, they did not know that the airplane was over the Hudson and headed for the water. Their ignorance did not matter: an impact was imminent, and they would hardly have taken this moment to inform the passengers of the life vests under their seats and to order the life vests put on.

pages: 182 words: 56,961

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande


Airbus A320, Atul Gawande, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, index card, John Snow's cholera map, megacity, RAND corporation, Tenerife airport disaster, US Airways Flight 1549, William Langewiesche

As it happened, the very next day, US Airways Flight 1549 took off from La Guardia Airport in New York City with 155 people on board, struck a large flock of Canadian geese over Manhattan, lost both engines, and famously crash-landed in the icy Hudson River. The fact that not a single life was lost led the press to christen the incident the “miracle on the Hudson.” A National Transportation Safety Board official said the flight “has to go down as the most successful ditching in aviation history.” Fifty-seven-year-old Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III, a former air force pilot with twenty thousand hours of flight experience, was hailed the world over. “Quiet Air Hero Is Captain America,” shouted the New York Post headline. ABC News called him the “Hudson River hero.” The German papers hailed “Der Held von New York,” the French “Le Nouveau Héros de l’Amérique,” the Spanish-language press “El Héroe de Nueva York.” President George W. Bush phoned Sullenberger to thank him personally, and President-elect Barack Obama invited him and his family to attend his inauguration five days later.

Olshan and I. Livingston, “Quiet Air Hero Is Captain America,” New York Post, Jan. 17, 2009. 174 “As Sullenberger kept saying”: M. Phillips, “Sully, Flight 1549 Crew Receive Keys to New York City,” The Middle Seat, blog, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 9, 2009, 174 “ ‘That was so long ago’ ”: “Sully’s Tale,” Air & Space, Feb. 18, 2009. 178 “Once that happened”: C. Sullenberger and J. Zaslow, Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters (New York: William Morrow, 2009). 179 “Skiles managed to complete”: Testimony of Captain Terry Lutz, Experimental Test pilot, Engineering Flight Operations, Airbus, National Transportation Safety Board, “Public Hearing in the Matter of the Landing of US Air Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, Weehawken, New Jersey, January 15, 2009,” June 10, 2009. 180 “ ‘Flaps out?’

“That was so long ago,” Sullenberger said, “and those gliders are so different from a modern jet airliner. I think the transfer of experience was not large.” It was as if we simply could not process the full reality of what had been required to save the people on that plane. The aircraft was a European-built Airbus A320 with two jet engines, one on each wing. The plane took off at 3:25 p.m. on a cold but clear afternoon, headed for Charlotte, North Carolina, with First Officer Jeffrey Skiles at the controls and Sullenberger serving as the pilot not flying. The first thing to note is that the two had never flown together before that trip. Both were tremendously experienced. Skiles had nearly as many flight hours as Sullenberger and had been a longtime Boeing 737 captain until downsizing had forced him into the right-hand seat and retraining to fly A320s.

pages: 184 words: 53,625

Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age by Steven Johnson


Airbus A320, airport security, algorithmic trading, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Donald Davies, future of journalism, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, Jane Jacobs, John Gruber, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mark Zuckerberg, mega-rich, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, packet switching, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, pre–internet, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Tim Cook: Apple, urban planning, US Airways Flight 1549, WikiLeaks, William Langewiesche, working poor, X Prize, your tax dollars at work

First there was the hero narrative: Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who had indeed brilliantly navigated his plane into the river with great poise under unthinkable pressure. And then there was the quasi-magical rhetoric that quickly became attached to the event, the Miracle on the Hudson. Those were the two options. That plane floating safely in the Hudson could be explained only by superheroes or miracles. There was no denying Sullenberger’s achievement that day, but the fact is, he was supported by a long history of decisions made by thousands of people over the preceding decades, all of which set up the conditions that made that perfect landing possible. A lesser pilot could have still failed catastrophically in that situation, but as good as Sullenberger was, he was not working alone.

But fly-by-wire is a more subtle innovation. Sullenberger was in command of the aircraft as he steered it toward the Hudson, but the fly-by-wire system was silently working alongside him throughout, setting the boundaries or optimal targets for his actions. That extraordinary landing was a kind of duet between a single human being at the helm of the aircraft and the embedded knowledge of the thousands of human beings that had collaborated over the years to build the Airbus A320’s fly-by-wire technology. It is an open question whether Sullenberger would have been able to land the plane safely without all that additional knowledge at his service. But fortunately for the passengers of flight 1549, they didn’t have to answer that question. — The popular response to the Miracle on the Hudson encapsulates just about everything that is flawed in the way we think about progress in our society.

Inspired by the NASA model, engineers at Airbus in the early 1980s built an exceptionally innovative fly-by-wire system into the Airbus A320, which began flying in 1987. Twenty-one years later, Chesley Sullenberger was at the controls of an A320 when he collided with that flock of Canada geese. Because his left engine was still able to keep the electronics running, his courageous descent into the Hudson was deftly assisted by a silent partner, a computer embodied with the collective intelligence of years of research and planning. William Langewiesche describes that digital aid in his riveting account of the flight, Fly by Wire: While in the initial left turn [Sullenberger] lowered the nose . . . and went to the best gliding speed—a value which the airplane calculated all by itself, and presented to him as a green dot on the speed scale of his primary flight display.

pages: 269 words: 74,955

The Crash Detectives by Christine Negroni

Air France Flight 447, Airbus A320, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, computer age, crew resource management, crowdsourcing, low cost carrier, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, South China Sea, Tenerife airport disaster, Thomas Bayes, US Airways Flight 1549

Fearful that the last engine might fail, de Crespigny made a request to ATC to climb to ten thousand feet. “I wanted enough altitude so we could glide back to Changi,” he reasoned. Nine months earlier, Captain Sullenberger found himself in a similar situation with even less altitude. He was at three thousand feet following takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport when geese flew into the engines, knocking them out. The A320 began a one-thousand-feet-per-minute descent. In his book Highest Duty, Sullenberger said he and Skiles knew in less than a minute that they were not going to get to any of the nearby airports. “We were too low, too slow, too far away and pointed in the wrong direction,” he wrote. The Hudson River was “long enough, wide enough and on that day, smooth enough to land a jetliner.” So he did. Worrying about whether the Qantas A380 might also turn into a 550-ton glider, de Crespigny calculated just how much altitude he would need to get back to Changi Airport.

Emergency In the early days of the Malaysia 370 mystery, I thought of these episodes. After all, it was an ordinary flight—under the command of an experienced and well-regarded captain—that suddenly turned baffling. The Boeing 777 departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8, 2014, on an overnight trip to Beijing. There were 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board. In the cockpit, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a thirty-three-year employee of the company, was in command. He had eighteen thousand flight hours. As a point of reference, that’s just fifteen hundred hours fewer than Chesley Sullenberger had in his logbook when he successfully ditched a disabled US Airways airliner into New York’s Hudson River, and Zaharie was five years younger than Sully. Zaharie spent even more untallied time flying his home-built flight simulator.

Was the alert real or another unreliable result from unreliable inputs to the ADIRU? The captain had to make a decision. The day was clear, visibility was good, and the wind was manageable, but the sun was going down. “We continued [toward the landing] with full caution,” he said, keeping an eye out for any indication of wind shear. “Thank God,” Norhisham said when Flight 124 landed safely with no injuries, though everyone on board the airplane was shaken. Only then did Norhisham stop and think about the “very thin margin of survival.” He had joined a fraternity of pilots who had knowingly broken the last link in the chain to calamity. Three and a half years later, Chesley Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles ditched an Airbus A320 in New York’s Hudson River after geese flew into the engines following takeoff from LaGuardia Airport.

pages: 309 words: 100,573

Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel: Questions, Answers, and Reflections by Patrick Smith


Airbus A320, airline deregulation, airport security, Atul Gawande, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, collective bargaining, inflight wifi, low cost carrier, Maui Hawaii, Mercator projection, New Urbanism, pattern recognition, race to the bottom, Skype, Tenerife airport disaster, US Airways Flight 1549, zero-sum game

A particular angle of bank might seem capriciously steep, or a landing might be clumsy, but any number of factors could be at fault. The severity of a maneuver, whether perceived or actual, is not always a crewmember’s whim or lack of finesse. What are your thoughts on the alleged heroics of Captain “Sully” Sullenberger and the so-called Miracle on the Hudson? Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was the US Airways captain who guided his suddenly engineless Airbus into the Hudson River on January 15, 2009, after striking a flock of Canada geese. Together with the majority of my colleagues, I have the utmost respect for Captain Sullenberger. But that’s just it: respect. It’s not adoration or a false, media-fattened misunderstanding of what he and his crew faced that day. As the public has come to understand it, Sully saved the lives of everybody on board through nerves of steel and superhuman flying skills.

And nowhere in the public discussion has the role of luck been adequately acknowledged. Specifically, the time and place where things went wrong. As it happened, it was daylight and the weather was reasonably good; there off Sullenberger’s left side was a 12-mile runway of smoothly flowing river, within swimming distance of the country’s largest city and its flotilla of rescue craft. Had the bird-strike occurred over a different part of the city, at a lower altitude (beyond gliding distance to the Hudson), or under more inclement weather conditions, the result was going to be an all-out catastrophe, and no amount of talent or skill was going to matter. Sullenberger, to his credit, has been duly humble, acknowledging the points I make above. People pooh-pooh this as false modesty or self-effacing charm, when really he’s just being honest. He has also highlighted the unsung role played by his first officer, Jeffrey Skiles.

And if we’re going to lavish praise on men like Sullenberger, who did not perish, what of the others like him whose stories you’ve likely never heard, mainly because their planes didn’t come splashing down alongside the world’s media capital? I give you Captain Brian Witcher and his crew aboard United Airlines flight 854, a 767 flying from Buenos Aires to Miami in April 2004. They never made headlines, but what they had to deal with was almost unthinkable: a complete electrical failure over the Andes at three o’clock in the morning. Under darkness, with their cockpit instruments dead or dying fast, including all radios and navigational equipment, they managed a successful emergency landing in mountain-ringed Bogotá, Colombia. Or consider the predicament facing American Eagle Captain Barry Gottshall and first officer Wesley Greene three months earlier.

pages: 262 words: 80,257

The Eureka Factor by John Kounios


active measures, Albert Einstein, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, deliberate practice,, Everything should be made as simple as possible, Flynn Effect, functional fixedness, Google Hangouts, impulse control, invention of the telephone, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Necker cube, pattern recognition, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, theory of mind, US Airways Flight 1549, Wall-E, William of Occam

I needed to touch down at a descent rate that was survivable. And I needed to touch down just above our minimum flying speed but not below it. And I needed to make all these things happen simultaneously.” Three and a half minutes after the bird strike, flight 1549, with its complement of 155 passengers and crew members, landed safely in the Hudson River. All were saved. Why did Captain Sullenberger succeed where virtually all pilots had previously failed? Sullenberger learned to fly at sixteen. When he enrolled in the U.S. Air Force Academy, he received glider training and became an instructor pilot. In the air force, he spent five years as a fighter pilot, where he became a flight leader, a training officer, and a member of the aircraft accident investigation board. After leaving the air force, he became a commercial airline pilot, where he accumulated tens of thousands of hours of flight time, not to mention additional training in flight simulators.

Experts don’t need much time because they don’t ordinarily need to compute many possibilities. They immediately know what will work and what won’t. The quick wits of experts can even save lives. On January 15, 2009, US Airways flight 1549 took off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport bound for Charlotte, North Carolina. While ascending, the plane struck a flock of birds. Captain Chesley (“Sully”) Sullenberger smelled burning—birds had been sucked into the engines. Then the engines went dead. Within thirty seconds, Captain Sullenberger concluded that the engines couldn’t be restarted. The plane’s altitude was three thousand feet and decreasing rapidly. He communicated the situation to the air traffic control tower and looked for a place to land. Decades of training and experience were brought to bear in an instant: “I quickly determined that due to our distance from LaGuardia and the distance and altitude required to make the turn back to LaGuardia, it would be problematic reaching the runway, and trying to make a runway I couldn’t quite make could well be catastrophic to everyone on board, and persons on the ground.

Gobet, “Expert and ‘Novice’ Problem Solving Strategies in Chess: Sixty Years of Citing de Groot (1946),” Thinking and Reasoning 14 (2008): 395–408. Regarding Bent Larsen’s approach to playing chess, see Quick Think 1 The information about, and quotes from, Captain Chesley Sullenberger are derived from;; and Wikipedia, s.v. “Chesley Sullenberger,” last modified June 26, 2014, CHAPTER 4: ALL OF A SUDDEN … * * * 1 The idea that creativity does not differ from “ordinary” thought is discussed in R. W. Weisberg, Creativity: Understanding Innovation in Problem Solving, Science, Invention, and the Arts (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley and Sons, 2006). 2 The anagram study by R.

pages: 410 words: 114,005

Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn From Their Mistakes--But Some Do by Matthew Syed


Airbus A320, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, Atul Gawande, Black Swan, British Empire, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, crew resource management, deliberate practice, double helix, epigenetics, fear of failure, fundamental attribution error, Henri Poincaré, hindsight bias, Isaac Newton, iterative process, James Dyson, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Joseph Schumpeter, Lean Startup, mandatory minimum, meta analysis, meta-analysis, minimum viable product, publication bias, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, Silicon Valley, six sigma, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, US Airways Flight 1549, Wall-E, Yom Kippur War

Both options were rejected. The plane would not glide that far. It was dropping too fast. At 3:29 p.m. Sullenberger uttered the words that would create headlines around the world: “We’re going to be in the Hudson.” • • • In the opening part of this book we have focused on failure in two safety-critical areas: aviation and health care. We have looked at responses, attitudes, and investigations into failure. Now we will have a brief look at success, and our responses to that. By shining a light on how we get things right we will discover a little more about why we get things wrong. Sullenberger ultimately landed the plane, all 70 tons of it, on the Hudson River. It was a brilliantly judged maneuver. The captain was diligent in the aftermath, too. He walked through the cabin twice to insure that all the passengers had exited onto the wings, lying inches above the surface of the river, before leaving his aircraft.

But aviation experts took a different view. They glimpsed a bigger picture. They cited not just Sullenberger’s individual brilliance but also the system in which he operates. Some made reference to Crew Resource Management. The division of responsibilities between Sullenberger and Skiles occurred seamlessly. Seconds after the bird strike, Sullenberger took control of the aircraft while Skiles checked the quick-reference handbook. Channels of communication were open until the very last seconds of the flight. Skiles called out airspeeds and altitudes to provide his captain as much situational awareness as possible as the aircraft dropped. With just a few seconds to go until impact they were still talking. “Got any ideas?” Sullenberger asked. “Actually not,” replied Skiles. Other safety experts talked about the fly-by-wire technology (the sophisticated autopilot systems that are active in all Airbus planes), which corrected the tilt of the plane inches from contact with the water.

He flew United Airlines 173 with a latent error in the system: an error waiting to happen, just like Dr. Edwards and Dr. Anderton, two outstanding doctors, in an operating theater near North Marston more than twenty-five years later. The irony is that Sullenberger, feted by presidents, might have made precisely the same mistake under those circumstances. The fact that he didn’t, and emerged a hero, was for a simple but profound reason: the industry in which he operates had learned the lessons. It is both apt and revealing that Sullenberger, a modest and self-evidently decent man, has made exactly this point. In a television interview months after the miracle landing on the Hudson, he offered this beautiful gem of wisdom: Everything we know in aviation, every rule in the rule book, every procedure we have, we know because someone somewhere died . . . We have purchased at great cost, lessons literally bought with blood that we have to preserve as institutional knowledge and pass on to succeeding generations.

pages: 306 words: 85,836

When to Rob a Bank: ...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbus A320, airport security, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, feminist movement, food miles, George Akerlof, information asymmetry, invisible hand, loss aversion, mental accounting, Netflix Prize, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, Pareto efficiency, peak oil, pre–internet, price anchoring, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, Richard Thaler, security theater, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, The Chicago School, the High Line, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, US Airways Flight 1549

Maybe I will write more about that tomorrow™. What Captain Sullenberger Meant to Say (But Was Too Polite to Do So) (BY “CAPTAIN STEVE”) Captain Steve is a seasoned international pilot for a major U.S. carrier and a friend of Freakonomics. (Given the sensitivity of what he writes, he prefers anonymity.) This post was published on June 24, 2009, six months after the “The Miracle on the Hudson,” in which Captain Chesley Sullenberger safely landed an Airbus A320-200 in the Hudson River. Both the plane’s engines had failed, due to a bird strike, shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York. After reading some of the excerpts of Captain Sullenberger’s various speeches, especially those of a few weeks ago with the National Transportation Safety Board, I would like to add my editorial. Captain Sullenberger has been a class act all the way.

., 12 Rubinstein, Yona, 9–10 rugby, blood injuries in, 148–49 Sadoff, Sally, 338 Saffer, Henry, 116 Sandusky, Jerry, 121 satisfaction, 122–23 scientific ideas, legitimacy of, 123 security overkill, 106–7 security screening, 108–9 self-consciousness, 123–24 self-reporting, 137–40 INS Form N-400, 237–38 Seltzer, Margaret, 146 Sen, Amartya, 336–37 September 11 attacks, 212–13, 252 sex: casual, 261 high-end call girl, 261–67 more, 259–61 prostitution, 255–56, 265–67 tax on, 256–59 Sexton, Alison and Steve, 184–85 shark attacks, 113 Shin-Yi Chou, 116 shrimp, 341–44 Siberry, Jane, 69–71 Silvertooth, Eugene “Chip,” 47 Simmons, Matthew, 114–16 Simon, Julian, 114 60 Minutes, 61–62 skin color, in the marketplace, 319–22 Smith, Adam, 315 Smith, Noah, 26–27 soccer, 209, 211, 212, 256 Somali pirates, 314–19 songs, prices of, 69–71 specialization, efficiency of, 172 sports: autographed baseballs, 80–81 betting on teams, 125–26 bowling, 204–6 cheating in, 148–50 doping, 151–52, 153 football, 206–9, 212–19, 239–41 golf, 198–204 home field advantage, 209–12 horseback riding, 101–3 horse racing, 191, 220–22 loss aversion, 206–9 players carrying concealed weapons, 240–41 soccer, 209, 211, 212, 256 steroids, 152–53 taxes on athletes’ incomes, 72–74 statistics: and medicine, 280–82 misinterpretation of, 345 Stein, Luke, 320–22 Steinem, Gloria, 51 Stenger, Victor, 286 steroids, 152–53 Stevenson, Betsey, 344–47 Stewart, Jon, 273–74 Stewart, M. R., 38–39 stock markets, capitalization of, 67 strangers, fear of, 130–33 street gangs, 229–36, 246–47, 248–49 street handouts, 328–37 Stubbs, Bob, 46 subjectivity, 170 Sullenberger, Chesley “Sully,” 82–83 SuperFreakonomics (Levitt & Dubner), 54, 101, 105, 119, 121, 261 supply and demand, 78–80, 110, 112, 115, 128, 341–44 Swift, Jonathan, 258–59 Taleb, Nassim Nicholas, 329, 334–37 tax code, 159–60 taxes: on athletes’ incomes, 72–74 cheating on, 158–60 on sex, 256–59 war on, 11–14 Taylor, Brian, 253 Taylor, Sean, 241 teachers, cheating by, 103–4, 160–61 Tejada, Miguel, 149 tenure, 16–19 Terrible Towel, 215 terrorism, 5–11, 108–9, 252 Thaler, Richard, 68, 308–9 Think Like a Freak (Levitt & Dubner), 26, 27, 178–84 ticketless travel, 141 Tierney, John, 114–16 Tinker, David, 40 tipping, and flight attendants, 19–20 Tomlin, Mike, 218 tooth decay, 275–76 Tour de France, 151–52 Travolta, John, 306 Tropicana, 174–75 TSA, 5–6, 11, 108–9, 251–53 Tversky, Amos, 206 TV viewing habits, 322–24 Twitter contest, 94–96 umbrellas, dangers of, 108–9 United States, six-word motto for, 96–99 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), 129–30 US Airways flight 1549, 82–83 Veblen, Thorstein, 184 veganism, 179–84 Velde, François, 62 Venkatesh, Sudhir, 229–36, 246–47 Vermeil, Dick, 207–8 Virgin Mobile, 63–64 voting mechanisms, 29–31 wages: and markets, 24, 25 of politicians, 32–36 and quality of applicants, 34 walking drunk, 101 Wayne (middle name), 38–40 Weber, Christopher L., 171, 172 Weller, Mark, 62–63 Werner, James, 40 Wertheim, Jon, 209–12 Weyl, Glen, 30–31 White, Byron “Whizzer,” 214 Williams, Tom, 148–49 Wilson, A.N., 282 Winfrey, Oprah, 51 Wire, The, 229–33 Witt, Robert, 225–26 Wolf, Cyril, 51–53 Wolfers, Justin, 344–47 women: feminist movement, 346–47 and happiness, 344–47 work: incentives in, 339–40 leisure vs., 168 World Preservation Foundation, 179–82, 192–95 World Series of Poker, 187–88, 192–95 Worthy, Paige, 44–45 Zelinsky, Aaron, 152–53 About the Authors STEVEN D.

He’s not been petty, pious, or egotistical. He is, however, like most of the captains I know and, more broadly, most of the pilots I know. Why? He doesn’t need to be otherwise. When someone has accomplished what he and the scores of men and women like him have accomplished, why do we need to boast? He implies that what he did while serving as the “skipper” of US Airways flight 1549 was simply his job. He is being as honest and accurate as he can be: “Please, no fanfare, no applause, just doing my job.” But what he has also alluded to in some of his speeches is that it has taken years, even decades, to prepare himself for that one single “lifetime event” of guiding his jet into the safe, smooth landing on the Hudson River. What he is not saying is this: We, the airline pilots, are facing a losing battle in the PR department.

pages: 309 words: 114,984

The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age by Robert Wachter


activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, Airbnb, Atul Gawande, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, deskilling,, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Firefox, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Google Glasses, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, Internet of things, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, lifelogging, medical malpractice, medical residency, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, personalized medicine,, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Snapchat, software as a service, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, the payments system, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Toyota Production System, Uber for X, US Airways Flight 1549, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Yogi Berra

—Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO, Salesforce “Noted physician-author Bob Wachter takes the reader on a fascinating journey of discovery through medicine’s nascent digital world. He shows us that it’s not just the technology but how we manage it that will determine whether the computerization of medicine will be for good or for ill. And he reminds us that the promise of technology in healthcare will be realized only if it augments, but does not replace, the human touch.” —Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger speaker; consultant; author of Highest Duty and Making a Difference; pilot of US Airways 1549, the “Miracle on the Hudson” “With vivid stories and sharp analysis, Wachter exposes the good, the bad, and the ugly of electronic health records and all things electronic in the complex settings of hospitals, physician offices, and pharmacies. Everyone will learn from Wachter’s intelligent assessment and become a believer that, despite today’s glitches and frustrations, the future computer age will make medicine much better for us all.”

In the face of such cacophony, Drew asked the nurse what kind of alarm would cause her to snap to attention. She thought for a moment and then said, “If the alarms went silent. That would be scary.” Medicine, of course, is not the only industry in which professionals need to perform their tasks in a swirling, often confusing, high-stakes environment, nor the only one that has to grapple with the matter of computerized alerts. I spoke to Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the famed “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot, about how aviation handles the matter of alerts. “The warnings in cockpits now are prioritized so you don’t get alarm fatigue,” he told me. “We work very hard to avoid false positives because false positives are one of the worst things you could do to any warning system. It just makes people tune them out.” He encouraged me to visit Boeing to see how its cockpit engineers manage the feat of alerting pilots at the right time, in the right way, while avoiding alert fatigue.

., “Mortality and Morbidity in Patients Receiving Encainide, Flecainide, or Placebo: The Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial,” New England Journal of Medicine 324:781–788 (1991). 146 “Based on what I can extract from the data” Interview of Shahram Ebadollahi by the author, August 18, 2014. 146 “Missing a real event is much more costly” Quoted in L. Kowalczyk, “Patient Alarms Often Unheard.” 147 I spoke to Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger Interview of Sullenberger by the author, May 12, 2014. 147 So I spent a day in Seattle with several of the Boeing engineers Interviews of Bob Myers, Alan Jacobsen, and Mark Nikolic by the author, June 4, 2014. 150 and a 2010 Australian study confirmed that it is J. I. Westbrook, A. Woods, M. I. Rob, et al., “Association of Interruptions with an Increased Risk and Severity of Medication Administration Errors,” Archives of Internal Medicine 170:683–690 (2010). 151 Studies of air traffic controllers S.

pages: 265 words: 74,807

Our Robots, Ourselves: Robotics and the Myths of Autonomy by David A. Mindell


Air France Flight 447, autonomous vehicles, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Chris Urmson, digital map, drone strike,, Erik Brynjolfsson, fudge factor, index card, John Markoff, Mars Rover, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, telepresence, telerobotics, trade route, US Airways Flight 1549, William Langewiesche, zero-sum game

Finally, de Crespigny recalled the actions of Flight Controller Gene Kranz during the Apollo 13 emergency: don’t focus on your failures, figure out what’s working, and work with that for a safe return. De Crespigny marshaled his remaining resources, focused his attention, and the crew landed flight QF32 safely back in Singapore with no injuries. Every time lives are lost due to human error, we can think of other times when they have been saved by human judgment and skill. QF32, and the “miraculous” 2009 US Airways landing on the Hudson River at the hands of Captain Chesley Sullenberger, seem to show that experienced, skilled, calculating humans are critical safety features of these systems on which our lives depend, the last line of defense when the machines fail. Air France 447 and others undermine those hopes. In the summer of 2013, pilots of Asiana Airlines flight 214 failed to successfully land their modern Boeing 777 in San Francisco on a perfectly clear day; the crash landing killed three and injured scores.

This idea made the airplane practicable, and also generated one of the great social inventions of the twentieth century—the airplane pilot, master of machine, traveler in an unstable element, and surveyor of human life below. “The twentieth century was born yearning for a new type of hero,” writes aviation historian Robert Wohl, “someone able to master the cold, inhuman machines that the nineteenth century bequeathed and at the same type transforming them into resplendent art and myth.” From Charles Lindbergh to Neil Armstrong to “Sully” Sullenberger, the cultural icon of the pilot embodied the human on the cutting edge of technology and social change. Analogies flowed freely—the adventurer of the sky, the aerial artist, the athlete of the third dimension. World War I offered new identities, particularly the “knight of the air” flying fighter ace, reviving ancient mythologies to rescue heroism from an anonymous war of trenches and random death.

., 38 Skynet (driverless car), 204–5 SM4 Hubble repair mission on STS-125, 173, 174–75 Southwest Airlines, 92–93 spaceflight and exploration, 159–90 autoland and, 159–63 heads up display (HUD) and, 159 Hubble Space Telescope service and repair missions and, 163–75 Mars Exploration Rover (MER) missions and, 163, 164, 175–90 space shuttles, 161–63 Spirit (mobile robot), 181, 184–86 Squyres, Steven, 175, 183–84, 185 SR-71 spy plane, 123 Star Wars (movie), 161, 217 STS-61 (first Hubble repair mission), 167–72 Sullenberger, Chesley, 72, 77 supervisory control, 38, 62 synthetic vision, 108–9, 225 systems managers, pilots as, 80 Talos (driverless car), 204–5 telepresence, 26, 43, 57 Teller, Seth, 200 Thornton, Kathy, 170, 171–72 Three Mile Island nuclear accident, 38 Thresher (submarine), 27, 36, 42 Thronson, Harley, 188–89 Thrun, Sebastian, 199–200 Time, 50–51 Titanic (movie), 51 Titanic (ship), 40, 42–43, 45–51 Toscano, Michael, 219–20 Trieste (bathyscaphe), 35, 44 trimming of aircraft, 116 Turkish Airlines crash, in Amsterdam, 105 U-2 spy plane, 123 Uber, 199 Uchuppi, Al, 43 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

pages: 308 words: 84,713

The Glass Cage: Automation and Us by Nicholas Carr


Airbnb, Airbus A320, Andy Kessler, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, Bernard Ziegler, business process, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, computerized trading, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, digital map, Douglas Engelbart, drone strike, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, High speed trading, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, natural language processing, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, software is eating the world, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, turn-by-turn navigation, US Airways Flight 1549, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William Langewiesche

Sooner or later, even the most advanced technology will break down, misfire, or, in the case of a computerized system, encounter a cluster of circumstances that its designers and programmers never anticipated and that leave its algorithms baffled. In early 2009, just a few weeks before the Continental Connection crash in Buffalo, a US Airways Airbus A320 lost all engine power after hitting a flock of Canada geese on takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York. Acting quickly and coolly, Captain Chesley Sullenberger and his first officer, Jeffrey Skiles, managed, in three harrowing minutes, to ditch the crippled jet safely in the Hudson River. All passengers and crew were evacuated. If the pilots hadn’t been there to “babysit” the A320, a craft with state-of-the-art automation, the jet would have crashed and everyone on board would almost certainly have perished. For a passenger jet to have all its engines fail is rare. But it’s not rare for pilots to rescue planes from mechanical malfunctions, autopilot glitches, rough weather, and other unexpected events.

Through both visual and haptic cues, the pilots stay in sync. The Airbus sidesticks, in contrast, are not in clear view, they work with much subtler motions, and they operate independently. It’s easy for a pilot to miss what his colleague is doing, particularly in emergencies when stress rises and focus narrows. Had Robert seen and corrected Bonin’s error early on, the pilots may well have regained control of the A330. The Air France crash, Chesley Sullenberger has said, would have been “much less likely to happen” if the pilots had been flying in a Boeing cockpit with its human-centered controls.32 Even Bernard Ziegler, the brilliant and proud French engineer who served as Airbus’s top designer until his retirement in 1997, recently expressed misgivings about his company’s design philosophy. “Sometimes I wonder if we made an airplane that is too easy to fly,” he said to William Langewiesche, the writer, during an interview in Toulouse, where Airbus has its headquarters.

., 179n Slamecka, Norman, 72–73, 74 slavery, slaves, 20, 21, 25, 26, 224–26 slot machines, 179n Small, Willard, 88 smartphones, 12–13, 33, 91, 136, 199–202 smartwatch, 201, 202 Smith, Adam, 21–22, 106–7 social decision-making, 122 social networks, 181–82 society, 159–60, 161, 172, 173, 176 automation’s changing of nature of, 193–99, 202 trade-offs made by, 207–8 sociologists, 109, 158–59 software, 1, 7–8, 12, 27, 28, 30, 33, 40, 52, 66, 67, 90, 108, 114–16, 119, 136, 151–52 architecture and design, 135, 138–47, 167, 229–30 cognitive processes and, 74–77, 80 compelling urgency of, 194 decision support, 70–71 ergonomics and, 164 ethics and, 184, 204 hidden assumptions of, 206 human- vs. technology-centered, 156, 160, 172–76 limits of, 9, 205 medical, 97–100, 114–15 planes and, 52, 54, 57, 168 social adaptations to, 202–8 trust in, 69 video games as model for design of, 178–82 software programmers, 157, 159, 174, 175 space, 129–30, 133–36, 205 Specialmatic, 174–75 speed, 17, 20, 35, 38, 51, 88, 159, 181, 207 of computers, 118–22, 139, 156, 164, 173, 219 of robots, 186 spell checkers, 180–81 Spence, Michael, 30 Sperry, Elmer A., 47 Sperry, Lawrence, 46–47, 50, 53, 232 Sperry autopilot, 47–49 Sperry Corporation, 49, 58 Spinoza, Baruch, 216 spy agencies, 120 Stanton, Neville, 90–91 Star Trek, 232 steamships, 36–37 stick shift, 3–6, 13 Street View, 136 substitution myth, 67, 97, 98, 129, 193 Sullenberger, Chesley, 154, 170 supersystem, development of, 196 Sutherland, Ivan, 138 tablets, 153, 199, 202 tacit (procedural) knowledge, 9–11, 83, 105, 113, 144 talents, 12, 27, 61, 74, 83, 85, 112, 216, 217, 219 of doctors, 105 human, limits to replication of, 9 Talisse, Robert, 85 Tango (mapping technology), 136 Taylor, Frederick Winslow, 107, 108, 114, 158, 207 teachers, teaching, 10, 12, 32, 153 technical arrogance, 175 technological momentum, 172–75, 196 technological unemployment, 26, 27, 198 technology, 1–2, 150–51, 215–32 health information, 93–106 invisibility of, 203–4, 208–10 labor-saving, 17, 20, 28, 67 long history of ambivalence to, 21–41 master-slave metaphor and, 224–26 progress and, see progress, technological TED conference (2013), 199–201 Tesla Motors, 8 tests, medical, 70–71, 99, 102, 245n–46n Thiel, Peter, 227 thinking, thought, 65, 67, 147–51 artificial intelligence and, 119 drawing as, 142–43, 144 Thinking Hand, The (Pallasmaa), 145 Thomis, Malcolm, 23 THOR (software program), 171 Thrun, Sebastian, 6, 207 tools, 150–51, 158, 174, 185, 195, 215–19, 221–26 To Save Everything, Click Here (Morozov), 225 traders, trading, 77, 115, 171 Tranel, Ben, 167 transport, 48, 49, 132, 173 “Tuft of Flowers, The” (Frost), 221 Turing, Alan, 119–20 Turkle, Sherry, 69 unconscious mind, 121, 148–49 unemployment, 20, 25–29, 38 technological, 26, 27, 198 United Kingdom, 95 University College London, 133 UPS, 117 U.S.

pages: 402 words: 98,760

Deep Sea and Foreign Going by Rose George


Admiral Zheng, air freight, Airbus A320, Albert Einstein, bank run, cable laying ship, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Costa Concordia, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Filipino sailors, global supply chain, Google Earth, intermodal, London Whale, Malacca Straits, Panamax, pattern recognition, profit maximization, Skype, trade route, UNCLOS, UNCLOS, urban planning, William Langewiesche

He tried to call the barge and got no response, then watched in disbelief as the barge hit his ship, fracturing all three cargo tanks. Suddenly there he was in the middle of an environmental disaster ‘with hydrocarbons all around us’. Imagine that the ship was an aeroplane. Imagine, for example, that it was US Airways Airbus A320, landed on New York’s Hudson River by Captain Chelsey Sullenberger in 2009. Although fuel oil was discharged into the river, Captain Sullenberger was an immediate hero, because all lives were saved. No-one died either in the collision between the barge and Hebei Spirit. Yet Jasprit Chawla and his first officer were immediately thrown in jail. Chawla had been at sea for 16 years without incident. He was kept in isolation for a month, denied access to a lawyer, and imprisoned for 18 months.

., 1 sewage sludge, discharge of, 1, 2 sextants, 1, 2, 3 sharks, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Shibin, Mohammed Saaili, 1 ship-building, 1 shipping industry and environment, 1 recession in, 1 secrecy and invisibility, 1, 2, 3 and whale strikes, 1 shipping news, 1 ships abandoned, 1 laid-up, 1 naming of, 1, 2 ships’ agents, 1, 2 ships’ bridges, 1 ships’ captains earnings, 1 in port, 1 and shipwrecks, 1, 2 social isolation, 1 ships’ cats, 1, 2 ships’ chandlers, 1, 2, 3 ships’ godmothers, 1 ships’ propellers, 1 Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, 1 shore leave, 1, 2, 3 Short, John, 1 Shortland, Dr Anja, 1 Sierra Leone, civil war, 1, 2 Silva Barata, Lieutenant-Commander Pedro, 1, 2 Simon, Able Seaman (cat), 1, 2 Singapore, 1, 2, 3 Slabbekoorn, Hans, 1 ‘slow steaming’, 1 Smuggling Precautions, 1 sniffer bees, 1, 2 sniffer dogs, 1 Soladiesel, 1 Somali fishermen, 1 Somali pirates, see piracy and pirates sonar, 1 South Shields, 1 Southampton, 1, 2 Southend Pier, 1 Sovereign Ventures, 1, 2 Special Boat Service, 1 SPS Infanta Cristina, 1 SS Alcoa Guide, 1 SS Amazone, 1 SS Anglo Saxon, 1, 2 SS Ashby, 1 SS Athenia, 1 SS Benvrackie, 1 SS Calchas, 1 SS Cingalese Prince, 1 SS City of Cairo sinking, 1, 2 SS Culworth Hill, 1 SS Halsey, 1 SS Rakhotis, 1 SS Soekaboemi, 1 SS Storaa, 1 SS Svendborg, 1 SS Warrior, 1 Stena Lines, 1 Stephen, King, 1 stevedores, 1 Stobbart, Frank, 1 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 1, 2 storms, 1 stowaways, 1 Strait of Gibraltar, 1 Strait of Hormuz, 1, 2 Straits of Malacca, 1, 2, 3 and piracy, 1 Strangers’ Rest Mission, 1 Strickler, Homer, 1 Strong, L.A.G., 1 Suez Canal, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 construction, 1 crews, 1 pilots, 1 transit costs, 1 Sullenberger, Captain Chelsey, 1 sulphur content, in fuel, 1, 2 Sumatra, 1, 2 Sunday Times (South Africa), 1 supply vessels, 1, 2, 3 Tapscott, Robert, 1 Taskar, Dr, 1, 2 Taylor, ex-President Charles, 1, 2 tea clippers, 1, 2 Tebbutt, David, 1 Thames, River, 1 Thomas, Captain Richard, 1 thunderboxes, 1 Tilbury, 1 Titanic (film), 1 Toki, Bryan, 1 trade, value of sea-borne, 1 transport costs, 1, 2 Trinh Vinh Thang, 1 tugs, 1 U-boats, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 UK Hydrographic Office, 1, 2 UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch, 1, 2 UK Maritime and Coastguard Authority, 1 UK Maritime Trade Operations Centre, 1 Ukrainian seafarers, 1, 2 Umenhofer, Walter, 1 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), 1, 2 UN Offices on Drugs and Crime, 1 United States of America and container security, 1 decline of seafaring, 1 hostility to seafarers, 1 merchant marine and wartime, 1, 2, 3 piracy prosecutions, 1 Prohibition era, 1 sea-borne trade, 1, 2 and seafarers’ welfare, 1 uranium, shipping of, 1 Urban Whale, The, 1, 2 US Coast Guard, 1 US Customs and Border Agency, 1, 2 US Department for Homeland Security, 1, 2 US Marines, 1, 2, 3, 4 US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), 1, 2 US Navy, 1, 2, 3, 4 anti-piracy patrols, 1 US Navy Seals, 1 US Office for Naval Research, 1 USCG cutter Campbell, 1 USS Cole, 1 USS Indianapolis, 1, 2 USS Nicholas, 1 USS Vella Gulf, 1 Vessel Data Recorders, 1 VHF radio, 1, 2, 3, 4 wages, unpaid, 1, 2 Wallis, Barnes, 1 war graves, 1 Watts, Norman, 1 Watts, Tiny, 1 whale-watching, 1 whales, 1 communication among, 1 disentanglement, 1, 2 Eubalaena glacialis, 1 exploding, 1 fasting, 1 identification of, 1 and noise, 1 ‘sagging’, 1 scat collecting, 1 skimming, 1 stranded, 1 whaling industry, 1 Widdicombe, Wilbert, 1, 2 Wilson, R.

Alan Atkinson, Gary Baker and Captain John Milloy did not. * There are tales and rumours about the sinking of Danny FII. Ahmad Harb said that when the ship started tilting, Gary Baker ‘stood in the middle of the ship and lit a cigarette. I looked at him, but he just waved with his hand saying that he doesn’t care any more, he wanted to go down with the ship.’ As for Captain Milloy, Nicolás Achard had a second-hand story from the Filipino second mate, who had approached the captain and offered him a lifejacket but Captain Milloy refused. He said, ‘No, I am staying here until the end.’ Ahmad Harb thought he was injured. ‘I heard the captain calling mayday. He recited the complete distress call, and said that we are 13 miles away from Tripoli port. This is where the captain went into silence, his voice disappeared, and I think that he got hurt.’

pages: 391 words: 105,382

Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr


Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, Airbus A320, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, centralized clearinghouse, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, computer age, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, deskilling, digital map, Donald Trump, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, factory automation, failed state, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, game design, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mental accounting, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Snapchat, social graph, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator

Google is quick to tell us about how few accidents its autonomous cars are involved in, but it doesn’t trumpet the many times the cars’ backup drivers have had to take the wheel to steer the machines out of danger. Computers are wonderful at following instructions, but they’re lousy at improvisation. They resemble, in the words of computer scientist Hector Levesque, “idiot savants” who are “hopeless outside their area of expertise.” Their talents end at the limits of their programming. Human skill is less circumscribed. Think of Captain Sully Sullenberger landing that Airbus A320 on the Hudson River after its engines were taken out by a flock of geese. Born of deep experience in the real world, such intuition lies beyond calculation. If computers had the ability to be amazed, they’d be amazed by us. While our own flaws loom large in our thoughts, we view computers as infallible. Their scripted consistency presents an ideal of perfection far removed from our own clumsiness.

., 332 speech recognition, 137 spermatic, as term applied to reading, 247, 248, 250, 254 Spinoza, Baruch, 300–301 Spotify, 293, 314 “Sprite Sips” (app), 54 Squarciafico, Hieronimo, 240–41 Srinivasan, Balaji, 172 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 68 Starr, Karla, 217–18 Star Trek, 26, 32, 313 Stengel, Rick, 28 Stephenson, Neal, 116 Sterling, Bruce, 113 Stevens, Wallace, 158 Street View, 137, 283 Stroop test, 98–99 Strummer, Joe, 63–64 Studies in Classic American Literature (Lawrence), xxiii Such Stuff as Dreams (Oatley), 248–49 suicide rate, 304 Sullenberger, Sully, 322 Sullivan, Andrew, xvi Sun Microsystems, 257 “surf cams,” 56–57 surfing, internet, 14–15 surveillance, 52, 163–65, 188–89 surveillance-personalization loop, 157 survival, technologies of, 118, 119 Swing, Edward, 95 Talking Heads, 136 talk radio, 319 Tan, Chade-Meng, 162 Tapscott, Don, 84 tattoos, 336–37, 340 Taylor, Frederick Winslow, 164, 237–38 Taylorism, 164, 238 Tebbel, John, 275 Technics and Civilization (Mumford), 138, 235 technology: agricultural, 305–6 American culture transformed by, xv–xxii, 148, 155–59, 174–77, 214–15, 229–30, 296–313, 329–42 apparatus vs. artifact in, 216–19 brain function affected by, 231–42 duality of, 240–41 election campaigns transformed by, 314–20 ethical hazards of, 304–11 evanescence and obsolescence of, 327 human aspiration and, 329–42 human beings eclipsed by, 108–9 language of, 201–2, 214–15 limits of, 341–42 master-slave metaphor for, 307–9 military, 331–32 need for critical thinking about, 311–13 opt-in society run by, 172–73 progress in, 77–78, 188–89, 229–30 risks of, 341–42 sociology and, 210–13 time perception affected by, 203–6 as tool of knowledge and perception, 299–304 as transcendent, 179–80 Technorati, 66 telegrams, 79 telegraph, Twitter compared to, 34 telephones, 103–4, 159, 288 television: age of, 60–62, 79, 93, 233 and attention disorders, 95 in education, 134 Facebook ads on, 155–56 introduction of, 103–4, 159, 288 news coverage on, 318 paying for, 224 political use of, 315–16, 317 technological adaptation of, 237 viewing habits for, 80–81 Teller, Astro, 195 textbooks, 290 texting, 34, 73, 75, 154, 186, 196, 205, 233 Thackeray, William, 318 “theory of mind,” 251–52 Thiel, Peter, 116–17, 172, 310 “Things That Connect Us, The” (ad campaign), 155–58 30 Days of Night (film), 50 Thompson, Clive, 232 thought-sharing, 214–15 “Three Princes of Serendip, The,” 12 Thurston, Baratunde, 153–54 time: memory vs., 226 perception of, 203–6 Time, covers of, 28 Time Machine, The (Wells), 114 tools: blurred line between users and, 333 ethical choice and, 305 gaining knowledge and perception through, 299–304 hand vs. computer, 306 Home and Away blurred by, 159 human agency removed from, 77 innovation in, 118 media vs., 226 slave metaphor for, 307–8 symbiosis with, 101 Tosh, Peter, 126 Toyota Motor Company, 323 Toyota Prius, 16–17 train disasters, 323–24 transhumanism, 330–40 critics of, 339–40 transparency, downside of, 56–57 transsexuals, 337–38 Travels and Adventures of Serendipity, The (Merton and Barber), 12–13 Trends in Biochemistry (Nightingale and Martin), 335 TripAdvisor, 31 trolls, 315 Trump, Donald, 314–18 “Tuft of Flowers, A” (Frost), 305 tugboats, noise restrictions on, 243–44 Tumblr, 166, 185, 186 Turing, Alan, 236 Turing Test, 55, 137 Twain, Mark, 243 tweets, tweeting, 75, 131, 315, 319 language of, 34–36 theses in form of, 223–26 “tweetstorm,” xvii 20/20, 16 Twilight Saga, The (Meyer), 50 Twitter, 34–36, 64, 91, 119, 166, 186, 197, 205, 223, 224, 257, 284 political use of, 315, 317–20 2001: A Space Odyssey (film), 231, 242 Two-Lane Blacktop (film), 203 “Two Tramps in Mud Time” (Frost), 247–48 typewriters, writing skills and, 234–35, 237 Uber, 148 Ubisoft, 261 Understanding Media (McLuhan), 102–3, 106 underwearables, 168–69 unemployment: job displacement in, 164–65, 174, 310 in traditional media, 8 universal online library, 267–78 legal, commercial, and political obstacles to, 268–71, 274–78 universe, as memory, 326 Urban Dictionary, 145 utopia, predictions of, xvii–xviii, xx, 4, 108–9, 172–73 Uzanne, Octave, 286–87, 290 Vaidhyanathan, Siva, 277 vampires, internet giants compared to, 50–51 Vampires (game), 50 Vanguardia, La, 190–91 Van Kekerix, Marvin, 134 vice, virtual, 39–40 video games, 223, 245, 303 as addictive, 260–61 cognitive effects of, 93–97 crafting of, 261–62 violent, 260–62 videos, viewing of, 80–81 virtual child, tips for raising a, 73–75 virtual world, xviii commercial aspects of, 26–27 conflict enacted in, 25–27 language of, 201–2 “playlaborers” of, 113–14 psychological and physical health affected by, 304 real world vs., xx–xxi, 36, 62, 127–30 as restrictive, 303–4 vice in, 39–40 von Furstenberg, Diane, 131 Wales, Jimmy, 192 Wallerstein, Edward, 43–44 Wall Street, automation of, 187–88 Wall Street Journal, 8, 16, 86, 122, 163, 333 Walpole, Horace, 12 Walters, Barbara, 16 Ward, Adrian, 200 Warhol, Andy, 72 Warren, Earl, 255, 257 “Waste Land, The” (Eliot), 86, 87 Watson (IBM computer), 147 Wealth of Networks, The (Benkler), xviii “We Are the Web” (Kelly), xxi, 4, 8–9 Web 1.0, 3, 5, 9 Web 2.0, xvi, xvii, xxi, 33, 58 amorality of, 3–9, 10 culturally transformative power of, 28–29 Twitter and, 34–35 “web log,” 21 Wegner, Daniel, 98, 200 Weinberger, David, 41–45, 277 Weizenbaum, Joseph, 236 Wells, H.

From The Atlantic 2008 SCREAMING FOR QUIET IN 1906, JULIA BARNETT RICE, a wealthy New York physician and philanthropist, founded the Society for the Suppression of Unnecessary Noise. Rice, who lived with her husband and six children in a Manhattan mansion overlooking the Hudson River, had become enraged at the way tugboats would blow their horns incessantly while steaming up and down the busy waterway. During a typical night, the tugs would emit two or three thousand toots, most of which served merely as sonic greetings between friendly captains. Armed with research documenting the health problems caused by the sleep-shattering racket, Rice launched a one-woman lobbying campaign that took her to police stations, health departments, the offices of shipping regulators, and ultimately the halls of Congress.

pages: 469 words: 97,582

QI: The Second Book of General Ignorance by Lloyd, John, Mitchinson, John


Ada Lovelace, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, clean water, double helix, Etonian, George Santayana, ghettoisation, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murano, Venice glass, out of africa, the built environment, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, traveling salesman, US Airways Flight 1549

Then there’s the weather, and sea conditions, either of which could wreck the plane, no matter how calmly the pilot behaves. Despite such unnerving obstacles, there have been at least half a dozen successful emergency landings by airliners on water, including one off the coast of Sicily in 2005. The most recent and spectacular example occurred in January 2009 when an Airbus A380, US Airways Flight 1549, ditched in the Hudson River in New York. Shortly after take off, the plane hit a flock of geese and Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger III had to make a forced landing on the water. He did this perfectly, saving the lives of all 155 people on board. Airline statisticians like to say that you are ten times more likely to be hit by a comet than to die in a plane crash. This is because, once every million years or so, an extraterrestrial body collides with Earth. The next time this happens it will probably wipe out half the world’s population but, as far as we know, the last time anyone was hit by a comet was 12,900 years ago.

Charles 1 Kittenger, Joseph 1 Kleitman, Dr Nathaniel 1, 2 Knox, Father Ronald 1, 2 knuckle cracking 1 Kodak 1 König, Peter 1 Krakatoa, eruption of 1 Kraken Mare lake (Titan) 1 Kwok, Dr Robert Ho Man 1 Lack, David 1 lactose tolerance 1 Ladbrokes 1 lake, largest 1 Lanfray, Jean 1 Lang, Gerhard 1 language official 1 spoken in ancient Rome 1 Latin 1, 2 as official language in Vatican 1 latitudinal libration 1 laurel wreath 1 lavatories 1 on aeroplanes 1 and hygiene 1 injuries while on 1 lead, hardness of 1 Leaning Tower of Pisa 1 Lebensprüfer (’Life-prover’) 1 Lebistina beetle 1 Leeuwenhoek, Anton van 1 Lent 1 Leo XIII, Pope 1 lepers, carrying bells 1, 2 leprosy 1 letterboxes 1 lexical-gustatory synaesthesia 1 libration 1, 2 lichens 1 Lilienthal, Otto 1 lingua franca 1, 2 Linnaean Society 1 liver 1 Llanfair PG 1 London 1 London Fire Brigade 1 longitudinal libration 1 ‘loo’ 1 see also lavatories Lorenzini, Stefano 1 lorikeet 1 lost, going round in circles when 1 lottery 1 Louis XIII, King 1 Lovelace, Ada 1 Lusitania, sinking of (1915) 1 Luxembourg 1 lying 1 give-aways 1 McCay, Professor Clive 1 McClelland Royal Commission 1 Macedonia/Macedonians 1, 2 Macfarlane, Charles 1 MacMahan, Dr Jamie 1 Mafia 1 Magna Carta (1215) 1, 2 magnetoception 1 Mahavira 1 mammals and heartbeats 1 most aggressive 1 smallest 1 mangoes, speeding up ripening process 1 Mansfield, Lord 1 Manx Shearwater 1, 2 Mao Zedong 1, 2 Maralinga nuclear tests (Australia) 1 Mariani, Angelo 1 Marie Byrd Land 1, 2 Marmite 1 marngrook (‘game ball’) 1 Marryat, Captain Frederick 1 Mars 1, 2, 3, 4 marula tree 1 Marx, Karl 1 Mary I, Queen 1 Mary, Queen of Scots 1 Mather, Graham 1 Matilda, Queen 1, 2 mating mayflies 1 octopus 1, 2 snakes 1 Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics (Tübingen) 1 mayflies 1 Mediterranean 1 size 1 tides 1 Melton Mowbray 1 Melville, Herman Moby Dick 1 Omoo 1 menstruation, vicarious 1 Merian, Maria Sibylla 1 Mertz, Xavier 1 mesophere 1 Messalina, Empress 1 Messinian Salinity Crisis 1 meteorites 1 Metronidazole 1 Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator 1 mice, species of British 1 Michelin man 1 Michelin stars 1 Michelin Tyre Company 1 Mickey Mouse 1 micro-frog 1 microwave ovens 1 microwaves 1 military success, and France 1 Milk Marketing Board 1 Milton, John 1, 2 Milton Keynes 1, 2 minerals, creation of 1 mink 1 mints 1 mirages 1 mockingbirds 1 Mohs, Friedrich 1 Mohs Hardness scale 1 Molotov (Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skriabin) 1 Molotov cocktails 1 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact (1939) 1 Mongolians 1, 2 monkey-pump 1 monosodium glutamate see MSG Montgomerie, Lieutenant Thomas 1 Moon 1 view from Earth 1 More, Sir Thomas 1 Morris, Reverend Marcus 1 Morris, Sir Parker 1 Morris, Steve 1 Morton, Charles 1 mosses 1 Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) 1 Moulin Rouge 1 mountains estimating height of 1 ‘in a high place’ notices 1 world’s second highest peak 1 Mpemba, Erasto 1 MSG (monosodium glutamate) 1, 2, 3 Munsters, The 1 Murray, Dr Stewart 1 mushrooms 1 Musk ox 1 Muslims, in India 1 Mussolini, Benito 1 mycology 1 naming, of new species 1 Naples 1 Napoleon 1, 2 height of 1 ‘Napoleon complex’ 1 narcotics 1 Natural History Museum 1 Nautilus pompilius 1 Nazis 1 Neanderthals 1, 2 Nelson, Horatio, height of 1, 2 Netherlands 1 see also Dutch New Labour laws 1 new towns 1 New Zealand 1 Newcastle Brown Ale 1 Newton, Humphrey 1 Newton, Sir Isaac 1, 2 Newton, Wayne 1 Nichols I, Tsar 1 nightmares, and eating cheese 1 Nile, River 1 nitrous oxide (laughing gas) 1 Nixon, Richard 1 no-man’s-land 1 noctilucent clouds 1 Normans 1, 2, 3 north, finding of in a forest 1 North Korea 1 North Sea 1 North Star (Polaris) 1 nosebleeds causes 1, 2 and death of Attila the Hun 1 treatment of 1 ‘not enough room to swing a cat’ phrase 1 Nubian people 1 Obama, Barack 1 oceans, temperature of 1 octopus 1, 2 Odo, Bishop of Bayeux 1 oil 1 Olympic Games 1 perfect 1 score 2 sports no longer included 1 opiods 1 opium 1 oranges, colour of 1 Orbison, Ray 1 organ transplants 1 Oswald the Lucky Rabbit 1 Ouroboros 1 ovum 1 Owen, Jennifer 1, 2 Oxford English Dictionary 1 oxygen 1 oxytocin 1 ozone layer 1 Pacioli, Luca 1 Paget, Stephen 1 pandas 1 pandemics 1 panspermia 1 papal infallibility 1 paper money 1 Papua New Guinea 1 parachute, opening of 1 paraesthesia 1 Paris, Michelin stars 1 Parker Morris standards 1 Parliament Acts (1911/1949) 1 Parthenon 1 Pascal, Blaise 1 Pasteur, Louis 1 peanuts, avoiding of in bars 1 Peary, Admiral Robert E. 1, 2 Peary Land 1 Pemberton, John Stith 1 Pen-tailed tree shrew 1 penguins 1 penicillin 1 penises Argentinian Lake Duck 1 snake’s two 1 Penny Black stamp 1 Penny Red stamp 1 Peterlee 1 Petition of Right Act (1628) 1 Pharnaces II, King 1, 2 phi 1 Phidias 1 Philip II, King of Spain 1 Phoenicians 1 phosphoric acid 1 photic sneeze reflex 1 pilchards 1 Pinker, Stephen 1 pins and needles 1 Pins and Needles (musical) 1 pirates 1, 2 Pius XII, Pope 1 place names, longest 1 plague 1, 2, 3 Plane Crazy 1 Plantagenet, House of 1 Plato, Timaeus 1 Pliny the Elder 1, 2 Plough (Big Dipper) 1 ploughman’s lunch 1 Ploughman’s Lunch, The (film) 1 Pocohontas 1 poisoning, by Vitamin A 1 ‘polar bear effect’ 1 Polyphemus 1 Pompey 1, 2 Pope 1 Poppaea (wife of Nero) 1 Post Office 1 postcards 1 postcodes 1 Potter, Beatrix 1 Powhatans 1, 2 praetors 1 preformationism 1 premature burial 1 prison uniforms, striped 1 progesterone 1 Progressive Muscle Relaxation 1 prostitutes 1 Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status 1, 2 Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status 1 Ptolemy I 1 Ptolemy XII 1 Ptolemy XIII 1 public speaking, fear of 1 puffins 1, 2 Puffinus puffinus 1 Pythian Games 1 Quinion, Michael 1 radar 1 radiation 1 radio plays, world coming to an end broadcasts 1 radioactivity 1 radium 1 railways, Italian 1 rainfall 1 Ransome, Arthur 1 Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep 1 rats 1 magnetic 1 rattlesnakes, on television 1 Rawlinson, Thomas 1 Raytheon 1 razor blade, as compass 1 Reagan, Nancy 1 recessions, and suicide 1 Red Sea 1 Rehn, Ludwig 1 Reith, Lord 1 Renaissance Bug see Halobacteria Rentokil 1 Representation of the People Act (1969) 1 reproduction 1 and budding 1 see also mating Rescue Annie 1 restaurants, and Michelin stars 1 resuscitation 1 Richard III, King 1, 2 Roberts, Andy 1 Roe, Donald 1 Rolfe, John 1 Roma 1 Romani 1 Romans/Roman Empire 1, 2 army/legions 1 conquering of Rome by Goths (410 AD) 1 eating of dormice 1 fighting of Huns 1 and glass 1 and hair 1 invasion of Britain 1 language spoken in Rome 1 sacking of Rome by Vandals (455) 1 treatment for insomnia 1 Roosevelt, President Theodore 1, 2 rope-climbing Olympians 1 Rothschild, Lord 1 rubber balls 1 Russian Revolution (1917) 1 rust 1 Rutzen, Michael 1 St Andrew’s Day 1 salt 1 Samaritans 1 sardines 1 satellite navigation 1 Saturn 1, 2, 3 sauna 1 Scarfe, Gerald 1 Schatz, Albert 1 Schimper, Anna 1 Schuetz, George and Edward 1 Scotland, wearing of kilts 1 Scott, Sir Walter 1, 2, 3 Scythians 1 seawater, freezing of 1 Second World War 1, 2, 3 Sellmer, Richard 1 semen 1 sensory substitution 1 Sequin, Albert 1 serfdom 1 Settlement Act (1701) 1 sewage, polluting of beaches 1 sex sneezing during 1 see also mating Shakespeare, William 1, 2 Henry VI Part (1) 1 sharks and tonic immobility 1 tracking by 1 Shaw, George Bernard 1, 2 shearwater 1 sheep-counting 1, 2 Sheffield 1 Sheffield FC 1 Shelley, Mary, Frankenstein 1 Shima Marineland Aquarium (Japan) 1 shivering 1 Sikhs, in India 1 silkworms 1 Sino-Japanese War (1937–45) 1 skin 1 breathing through 1 effect of drinking water on 1 shedding of dead 1 Skipsea (Yorkshire), planned atomic bomb explosion 1 slavery, in England 1 sleep 1 and dreaming 1 and eating cheese 1 REM (rapid eye movement) 1 slim appearance and black clothes 1 and stripes 1 smell 1 smiling 1 Smith, John 1 Smyrna 1 Smyth, Admiral W.H. 1 snakes beating heart of cobra 1 rattlesnakes on television 1 swallow big objects 1 tail 1 sneezing during sex 1 in response to bright light 1 snow 1 sound in space 1 speed of 1 South African pilchards 1 South Pacific 1 Southern Pole star 1 sovereigns 1 Soviet Union, and Second World War 1 space, sound in 1 Spanish Armada 1 Spanish Civil War 1 Spanish national anthem 1 species discovering new 1 naming of 1 Specific Anthropomorphic Mannequin (SAM) 1 spectacles 1 speed cameras 1 destruction of 1 Spelling Reform Bill 1 Spencer, Percy 1 sperm human 1 octopus 1 Spiderman 1 spiders 1 sportsmen, and huddles 1 Spratly Islands 1 staircases, helical 1 Stalin, Joseph 1 stamps 1 stars, finding north through observing 1 Steamboat Willie 1, 2 steel balls 1 Stevenson, Robert Louis, Treasure Island 1 ‘stiff upper lip’ 1 stiffness, measuring 1 Stilton cheese 1 Stilton (town) 1 stings, treatment of jellyfish 1 Stone Age 1 Stowe, Harriet Beecher 1 Straits of Gibraltar 1, 2 stratosphere 1 streptomycin 1, 2 stripes and appearance 1 substances hardest known 1 strangest 1 Sudan 1, 2 sugary drinks/food 1 suicide (s) and handwriting 1 and recessions 1 and Wall Street Crash (1929) 1 Sullenberger III, Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ 1 Sun rising of 1 setting of 1, 2 water vapour traces 1 supercooling 1 Superman 1 swallowing 1 sweat/sweating 1, 2 swordtail fish 1 Table Alphabeticall 1 tapestries 1 tartan 1 taste fifth (umami) 1, 2 and tongue 1 TATT (‘tired all the time’) syndrome 1 Tattersall, Ian 1 tautonyms 1 tea 1 tectonic plates 1 teeth, effect of fizzy drinks on 1 Telford 1 Telford, Thomas 1 temperature coldest recorded in England 1 country with widest range of 1 in oceans 1 on Titan 1 of water 1 Temple, Frederick 1 testosterone 1, 2, 3 Thames helmet 1 Thatcher, Margaret 1 Thing, The (film) 1 Thirty Years War 1 Thompson, Dr Peter 1 Thomsen, Christian Jürgensen 1 Three-Age System 1 3-D 1, 2 Thrombosis Institute 1 thujone 1 Tibet 1 tidal locking 1 tides, Mediterranean 1 Titan 1 titan (bank note) 1 Titanic 1 toe cleavage 1 toilet 1 see also lavatories Tokyo, Michelin stars 1 tongue swallowing of 1 and taste 1 tongue map 1 Tours, Battle of (732) 1 Towton, Battle of (1461) 1 trains 1 transient paraesthesia 1 Tre Skillin Yellow stamp 1 treasure maps 1 trees 1 Trehane, Sir Richard 1 Trollope, Anthony 1 troposphere 1, 2 Troy weight 1 tuberculosis 1, 2 Tuf Tuf Club 1 Tunisia 1 Turpin, Dick 1 Turritopsis nutricula 1 Twain, Mark 1, 2, 3 umami 1, 2 Unger, Donald L. 1 United States burning of American flags 1 constitution 1 electoral system 1 and English language 1 and First World War 1 Flag Code 1, 2 orange producer 1 Pins and Needles Day 1 plane crashes 1 Presidents of 1 and sinking of Lusitania 1 and ‘stiff upper lip’ term 1 toilet hygiene 1 use of gavel 1 weight of average citizen 1 Uranus 1 urine frozen 1 and treatment of jellyfish stings 1 US Embassy (Grosvenor Square) 1 Uys, Jamie 1 vampire bats 1 Varah, Chad 1 Vasari, Georgio 1, 2 Vatican 1, 2, 3 lowest age of consent 1 Venetian glass 1 Venezuela 1 ‘veni, vidi, vici’ phrase 1 Venus 1 Vermouth 1 Versailles, Treaty of 1 vertebrae 1 vertigo 1 Vertigo (film) 1 Viking helmet 1 Vin Mariani 1 vinegar, and jellyfish stings 1 Virgil, Aeneid 1 viruses 1 vision 1, 2 Vitamin A poisoning 1 Vitruvius 1 voles 1 von Baer, Karl Ernst 1 von Helmholtz, Hermann 1 von Hipper, Admiral Franz von 1 von Rosenhof, Johann Rösel 1 Vulgar Latin 1 Waksman, Selman 1 Wales 1 Walk, R.

As the Lusitania prepared to set off from New York to Liverpool, Germany placed adverts in US papers warning that passengers sailing through a war zone did so ‘at their own risk’. Captain Turner of the Lusitania described this as ‘the best joke I’ve heard in many days,’ and reassured his passengers that with a top speed of 26 knots (nearly 50 kilometres per hour or 30 miles per hour) she was too fast for any German U-boat. Just one torpedo was all that was needed to sink the ship, 13 kilometres (8 miles) off the coast of Ireland, on 7 May 1915. She went down in eighteen minutes with the loss of 1,198 lives – including over a hundred children, many of them babies. One survivor recalled swimming through crowds of dead children ‘like lily-pads on a pond’. On being rescued from the wreck, the hapless Captain Turner remarked, ‘What bad luck – what have I done to deserve this?’ Only 239 bodies were recovered, a third of whom were never identified.

pages: 526 words: 158,913

Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America by Greg Farrell


Airbus A320, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, bank run, banking crisis, bonus culture, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, financial innovation, fixed income, glass ceiling, high net worth, Long Term Capital Management, mass affluent, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ronald Reagan, six sigma, sovereign wealth fund, technology bubble, too big to fail, US Airways Flight 1549, yield curve

That evening, Ken Lewis held a conference call with his board of directors. The meeting was surreal. A few hours earlier, a Charlotte-bound U.S. Airways flight experienced engine trouble after taking off from LaGuardia Airport in New York. The captain, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, made a split-second decision to ditch the airplane, an Airbus A320, in the Hudson River rather than take a chance on being able to get back to an airport. More than a dozen BofA employees were on the flight, heading back to Charlotte after a four-day workweek in New York. Miraculously, the plane landed intact on the Hudson and stayed afloat for hours, allowing rescue teams to get everyone out alive. Lewis assured the board that everyone was safe and out of harm’s way, and then began describing the final details of the government rescue package, which had been firmed up that week.

He wore plaid suits and a wristwatch that looked like it had come from the Museum of Modern Art. Just as he had transformed his office into a stunning aerie high above New York Harbor and the Hudson River, he also lavished great care and attention on his own presentation and appearance. He looked more like the creative director of a large advertising agency than an investment banker. The women who worked directly for Thain—Margaret Tutwiler and May Lee—admired their boss’s fierce intellect, but were absolutely taken with Kraus’s presence. He was the epitome of urbane sophistication and taste. Nelson Chai’s office on the thirty-second floor was situated between Thain’s office, occupying the southwest corner of the building, and Kraus’s space, which faced west overlooking the Hudson River and New Jersey. Unlike the offices that surrounded his, Chai’s work area still resembled a makeshift space.

“You were at your best, and your father would have been proud,” said Schreyer. Smith was flattered by the praise, especially since it came from a man who did so much to put O’Neal into the CEO’s chair in the first place. THERE WAS ONE OTHER contrast Thain would draw between himself and O’Neal, and it involved his predecessor’s corner office on the thirty-second floor, with a commanding view of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, and the Hudson River. The first time he saw the décor of O’Neal’s office Thain cringed reflexively, and couldn’t imagine receiving the firm’s most important clients and investors there. He had been particular about his office at Goldman Sachs, to the point of paying for special furnishings out of his own pocket. (Those were the rules at Goldman Sachs: People got paid spectacularly well, but the firm was tight on personal expenses.)

Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought by Andrew W. Lo

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, Arthur Eddington, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, backtesting, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, break the buck, Brownian motion, business process, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Carmen Reinhart, Chance favours the prepared mind, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computerized trading, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Diane Coyle, diversification, diversified portfolio, double helix, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Ernest Rutherford, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, framing effect, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, housing crisis, incomplete markets, index fund, interest rate derivative, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Meriwether, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, martingale, merger arbitrage, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, money market fund, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Nick Leeson, old-boy network, out of africa, p-value, paper trading, passive investing, Paul Lévy, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, predatory finance, prediction markets, price discovery process, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, RAND corporation, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, statistical arbitrage, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, survivorship bias, The Great Moderation, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, ultimatum game, Upton Sinclair, US Airways Flight 1549, Walter Mischel, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

This communication function is also a very effective antidote to chapter 10’s tyranny of complexity and elitism. Despite the extraordinary complexity of determining the causes of a plane crash, Fixing Finance • 381 the NTSB manages to communicate a definitive narrative that satisfies all stakeholders, not just those with specialized knowledge. A case in point is the water landing of USAir Flight 1549, piloted by Captain Chesley Sullenberger, in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009. Given the history of terrorist acts in New York over the years, you can imagine how New Yorkers might have reacted to an airplane crash landing within walking (or swimming) distance of the financial district. But that very afternoon, the NTSB issued a statement that, pending more detailed investigation, the initial best guess as to what happened was a bird strike that shut down both engines of Flight 1549.

., 100 Sobel, Russell, 206 social Darwinism, 215 social exclusion, 85–86 social media, 55, 270, 405 Société Générale, 60–61 Society of Mind, The (Minsky), 132–133 sociobiology, 170–174, 216–217 Sociobiology (Wilson), 170–171 Solow, Herbert, 395 Soros, George, 6, 219, 222–223, 224, 227, 234, 244, 277 sovereign wealth funds, 230, 299, 409–410 Soviet Union, 411 Space Shut tle Challenger, 12–16, 24, 38 specialization, 217 speech synthesis, 132 Sperry, Roger, 113–114 “spoofi ng,” 360 Springer, James, 159 SR-52 programmable calculator, 357 stagflation, 37 Standard Portfolio Analysis of Risk (SPAN), 369–370 Stanton, Angela, 338 starfish, 192, 242 Star Trek, 395–397, 411, 414 stationarity, 253–255, 279, 282 statistical arbitrage (“statarb”), 284, 286, 288–291, 292–293, 362 statistical tests, 47 Steenbarger, Brett, 94 Stein, Carolyn, 69 sterilization, 171, 174 Stiglitz, Joseph, 224, 278, 310 Stocks for the Long Run (Siegel), 253 stock splits, 24, 47 Stone, Oliver, 346 Stone Age, 150, 163, 165 stone tools, 150–151, 153 stop-loss orders, 359 Strasberg, Lee, 105 stress, 3, 75, 93, 101, 122, 160–161, 346, 413–415 strong connectedness, 374 Strong Story Hypothesis, 133 Strumpf, Koleman, 39 “stub quotes,” 360 subjective value, 100 sublenticular extended amygdala, 89 subprime mortgages, 290, 292, 293, 297, 321, 327, 376, 377, 410 482 • Index Sugihara, George, 366 suicide, 160 Sullenberger, Chesley, 381 Summers, Lawrence (Larry), 50, 315–316, 319–320, 379 sunlight, 108 SuperDot (trading system), 236 supply and demand curves, 29, 30, 31–33, 34 Surowiecki, James, 5, 16 survey research, 40 Sussman, Donald, 237–238 swaps, 243, 298, 300 Swedish Twin Registry, 161 systematic bias, 56 systematic risk, 194, 199–203, 204, 205, 250–251, 348, 389 systemic risk, 319; Bank of England’s measurement of, 366–367; government as source of, 361; in hedge fund industry, 291, 317; of large vs. small shocks, 315; managing, 370–371, 376–378, 387; transparency of, 384–385; trust linked to, 344 Takahashi, Hidehiko, 86 Tanner, Carmen, 353 Tanzania, 150 Tartaglia, Nunzio, 236 Tattersall, Ian, 150, 154 Tech Bubble, 40 telegraphy, 356 Tennyson, Alfred, Baron, 144 testosterone, 108, 337–338 Texas hold ’em, 59–60 Texas Instruments, 357, 384 Thackray, John, 234 Thales, 16 Théorie de la Spéculation (Bachelier), 19 theory of mind, 109–111 thermal homeostasis, 367–368, 370 This Time Is Different (Reinhart and Rogoff ), 310 Thompson, Robert, 1, 81–82, 83, 103–104 three-body problem, 214 ticker tape machine, 356 tight coupling, 321, 322, 361, 372Tiger Fund, 234 Tinker, Grant, 395 Tobin tax, 245 Tokugawa era, 17 Tooby, John, 173, 174 tool use, 150–151, 153, 162, 165 “toxic assets,” 299 trade execution, 257, 356 trade secrets, 284–285, 384 trading volume, 257, 359 transactions tax, 245 Treynor, Jack, 263 trial and error, 133, 141, 142, 182, 183, 188, 198, 265 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, 378–379 tribbles, 190–205, 216 Trivers, Robert, 172 trolley dilemma, 339 Trusty, Jessica, 120 Tversky, Amos, 55, 58, 66–67, 68–69, 70–71, 90, 106, 113, 388 TWA Flight 800, 84–85 twins, 159, 161, 348 “two-legged goat effect,” 155 UBS, 61 Ultimatum Game, 336–338 uncertainty, 212, 218; risk vs., 53–55, 415 unemployment, 36–37 unintended consequences, 7, 248, 269, 330, 358, 375 United Kingdom, 222–223, 242, 377 University of Chicago, 22 uptick rule, 233 Urbach-Wiethe disease, 82–83 U.S.

Where Star Trek had the communicator, we have the cell phone; where Star Trek had the tricorder, we have the smart phone and FitBit—although they’re not quite smart enough to diagnose illnesses (yet). Mr. Spock could ask the Enterprise questions and be answered by the voice of Majel Barrett, Gene Roddenberry’s wife; today, we have Siri, Cortana, and Alexa to answer everyday questions about enterprises of our own. When we get home, we can sit in our ergonomic chair as we watch the world’s events on our widescreen television while scrolling through a touchpad, just like Captain Kirk. About the only thing missing is the photon torpedoes. The one aspect of modern life that Star Trek spent no time on was finance. This didn’t occur to me until fairly recently since, as a child, I had no inkling of or interest in finance. But after watching one of the recent Star Trek films, I started to wonder what the finance of the future might look like. If the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis proves to be more than hypothesis, what could we do with that knowledge?

pages: 640 words: 177,786

Against All Enemies by Tom Clancy, Peter Telep


airport security, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, illegal immigration, Iridium satellite, US Airways Flight 1549

Pilots of single-engine aircraft were instructed to never, ever, attempt to return to the runway, because they would lose too much altitude to effect the turnaround. Case in point: On January 15, 2009, Captain Chesley Sullenberger was in command of US Airways Flight 1549 en route from La Guardia to Charlotte. He had lifted off and flown through a flock of birds, resulting in the loss of both engines. He knew he’d lose precious altitude if he started a turnaround with no engines producing power, and determined that his best course of action was to ditch in the river. His actions had saved the lives of the crew and every passenger on board. They could blame the birds for that near disaster, but Dan felt certain that Mr. Allahu Akbar in the seat next to him, along with his buddies, was responsible for their present dilemma. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain Ethan Whitman. As most of you already know, we’ve lost an engine but plan to make our turn and head back to the airport.

(Ret.) and Tony Koltz Every Man a Tiger: The Gulf War Air Campaign with General Chuck Horner (Ret.) and Tony Koltz Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces with General Carl Stiner (Ret.) and Tony Koltz AGAINST ALL ENEMIES TOM CLANCY with PETER TELEP G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS NEW YORK G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS PUBLISHERS SINCE 1838 Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA • Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) • Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi–110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England Copyright © 2011 by Rubicon, Inc.

Finally, a dark shadow swelled like a whale or great white shark off the port bow. As the shadow drew closer, the men on the deck shouted to one another and got to work readying the lines. The shadow rose from the water, taking on a mottled pattern of blue, gray, and black, and then, with seawater washing off its sides, it fully broke the surface … A submarine. The vessel glided alongside them, and Ballesteros cried out to the captain, who was rising into the hatch, “This time, I’m coming along for the ride!” The sub was diesel electric-powered, thirty-one meters long, and nearly three meters high from deck plates to ceiling. It was constructed of fiberglass and could cut through the water via twin screws at more than twenty kilometers per hour, even while carrying up to ten tons of cocaine. The vessel had a three-meter-tall conning tower with periscope and the ability to dive to nearly twenty meters.