and to finish , rather than just reduce the chance of an accident.
A somewhat large and off topic question in way but the several things have made me ponder on this - as a non engineer.
Firstly all the talk of driverless cars.They will prevent roads deaths has morphed intoa statement by Ed Musk of Tesla " human drivers may have to be banned"- i.e engineers can stop accidents so the reponsiblity lies with them not individuals
Some peple are demanding pilotless planes immediately to stop pilot suicides costing lives. Even in this forum the question is " what engineering solution to the Nurburgring spectator fatality".
Don't get me wrong , Im not condemning such demands as stupid, silly or unaffordable but I was just pondering what the people here think that society now demands of engineering - including software design?
My sense is two things - Western Societies tolerance of risk has reduced substantailly over the last 30 years. Motor racing is no exception. It has ben made so much safer , thanks to engineers and sponsor/Bernie money. However if by some freak we had a year of F1 deaths like the 1970's would it now be banned or reduced drastically in speed/content?
Secondly safety has always demanded trade off's. As I understand it that is exactly how the FAA/CAA go about their work which seems to be less impacted by politics than say car design.
As I say I am not an engineer but do recall one example 40 years ago of sitting in on a value of human life discussion. I worked in an oil company abut to commit to the production platforms in the UK North Sea. The number of platforms is determined by drilling technology but the size so cost of each one is basically driven by the weather.
Platform size equals cost. Size is deck area times height above mean sea level. If you make the deck small you have to re supply more and bad weather stops supply ship unloading hence you shut down operations. Safety dictates the deck is above the highest likely wave.
So we called in a weather expert who said basically " do you want to design for a 20 year, 50 year or 100 year wave?"
A one hundred year North Sea wave is 90ft plus or as he put it the height of a ten storey building. Having finally accepted that size was possible the discussion was " well, no not one hundred wave so how about 50 year wave as that is 2.5X the expected platform life.
The discussion went on a long time as everybody did realise lives were involved. My sense is ,and I may be wrong, that such a conversation would not be allowed , or recorded today lest it was used to prove " profit before lives etc"
What to people think? Are such discusions stil allowed/commomplace in design?
I suppose the ideal solution would be for goverments to state clearly their acecptable money value of a citizens life and let the enginers prove they designed compotently to that level.