7.25.2004

 

Robots and air traffic controllers


Staffing crisis looms for isle air traffic control

This article helps explain why the nation's 15,000 air traffic controllers will soon be replaced by robots. First, the median income of a controller is $91,000. If you eliminate 15,000 controllers, you save something on the order of $1.5 billion per year.

No new controllers are being hired, so there is now a "looming crisis" that has been fabricated from this hiring deficit. With a "looming crisis" and $1.5 billion/year in savings, the natural thing to do will be to replace all of the controllers with software.

Once air traffic control is handled by robots, it will be much easier for the robotic controllers to talk to robotic pilots rather than human ones. So all of the pilots will be replaced by robots as well. We are already 75% of the way there with autopilots anyway.

Which is all fine -- this is the natural march of progress. In theory, airline tickets will get cheaper in the process. But what are these tens of thousands of unemployed people going to do?

And what if you would actually like to become a pilot? What if that job sounds appealing? The job simply will not exist anymore -- human pilots will be extremely unsafe when compared to robot pilots. In 20 or 30 years, people will no longer be allowed to fly planes. It will be too dangerous, so it will be forbidden. See also Why robots will replace pilots sooner rather than later and Robotic Nation for details.

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