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Category Archive for: ‘Safety’

Moral Strength: Learning from Nietzsche and the Wolf

Wolf Banner

Morality is a muscle. In some it never gets a chance to develop – atrophied from birth by spineless role models. In others it develops through childhood and the idealistic days of youth, but withers in the face of the so-called pragmatics of life, leaving us unable to exert any moral force at all when the situation desperately calls for …

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Dolça Barcelona: How Systems Thinking Saved History

Barcelona Banner

Most civilizations plan on eternal life but somehow it never pans out that way. We prove it every time we uncover a Pompeii or a new Atlantis and dig through the entrails of a lost world listening for the cries of the dead. Its disappointing because, you know, it’s going to happen to us. Worse, more likely than not, our …

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Extreme Review: A Tale of Nakedness, Alsatians and Fagan Inspection

The Luncheon on the Grass, Edouard Manet

Two naked babies amble across a busy freeway. Trotting after them is a guy in a suit. The guy is me. Looking back on that day it’s clear that this was an omen, for within the hour I was to encounter extreme review and understand why, that for systems engineers, public nakedness is sometimes a good thing. The Approach Flying …

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On Standards and Art

Standards And Art6

If you comply with a quality standard does this mean you’ve made a quality product? If you comply with a safety standard is your system is safe? Probably not. To produce quality you’ve got to know what people want and that can take a lifetime of experience. To guarantee safety you must have seen a lot of failures and that’s …

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Deus Ex Machina and Speaking Truth to Power

BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Drilling Rig

What to do when people are put in harm’s way because solid, technical advice on designing, deploying and operating complex systems is ignored by decision makers not competent in the target technology? Does the ethical responsibility for the consequences pass to the decision maker somehow absolving the advisor?  Or should engineers forswear company loyalty for their higher duty to preserve human safety? At what …

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