Blog Post 8

During “On Autopilot”, Carr takes a stance from a fact and value basis. This time, he explains the relationships between automation and air travel. On a factual level, Carr introduces a variety of stories including the story of Marvin Renslow and Pierre Bonin. Carr uses these stories to provide examples of how automation is negatively impacting the performance of pilots during abnormal or dangerous situations. Although Carr acknowledges that flight has become safer since automation has become more prevalent, he also introduces the point from Bill Voss that “automation is really the primary flight control system in the aircraft”. This begins a shift to the “value” side of this chapter.  Carr continues to assert the argument he has used before, which is that automation is too much of a factor in the flying of an airplane. He argues that pilots do not know what to do when there are events that autopilot cannot control. Carr refers to the term “skill-fade” to address this. Carr even goes on to address that the pilot may lose a sense of identity, saying in the last sentence that “a glass cockpit can also be a glass cage.”

Carr appeals to the logos by presenting stories that actually occurred and are widely known and verified. He also provides statistics on the trends in air travel safety over the years. Carr also consults many scholars to provide some psychological explanations of the effects of automation on pilot performance. A good example as mentioned above would be the “skill-fade” psychological theory. By introducing many detailed stories, reviewing the history of automation, presenting statistical information, and discussing scholarly theories from credible sources, Carr satisfies the logos of the argument. The pathos is the easiest to figure out. Carr is making the same argument he has made for many years. He makes the claims that automation and an increasing trend of technology assistance and usage is depleting our ability to adapt and respond to situation where the technology cannot help us. Also, Carr specifically addresses the effect of automation on pilot identity. He says that a pilot determines self worth on the control of their aircraft. This is decreasing due to the introduction of automation. Carr says that the values of air travel and pilots is moving further away from the values of Wilbur and Wright who believed the pilot should have “ as much autonomy and freedom as possible” . The ethos is satisfied because the message is delivered confidently by an individual who has written on this topic many times before. Also, all the information received from outside sources is addressed and cited properly.

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