Re: More Trouble with Programming
Posted: Dec 9, 2006 10:38 AM
> The solution to the air traffic safety problem wasn't just
> better plane design. It was a whole complex mass of
> approaches including better planes, better airports,
> better airspace control, better pilot training, better
> differentiation of different role in the air traffic
> system, better controls for the pilots to use, better
> tools for the air-traffic controllers to use, better
> systems for gathering and presenting weather data, and
> much, much more. The results have been quite spectacular -
> and took many decades to mature.
I agree with all your points but one - pilot training isn't better. The previous generation of airline pilots were arguably much more skilled, as they learned their craft pushing airplanes to the limit in combat. Current pilots simply do not get such training.
What has happened is the tools (all the other things you mentioned) got better to more than compensate.
> And part of the solution was licensing. You just don't fly
> a 747 without serious general education, serious specific
> training, and a license.
If you removed all government licensing requirements tomorrow, nothing would change. Do you think an airliner would let the likes of you or me even sit in the pilot's seat of a 747? They've got billions of dollars in cost and liability flying on each 747. No matter how easy it is to fly, they're not going to risk anyone but their best pilots in the seat.
> Raising our sights from plummers and accountaints to
> pilots and surgeons, we realize that other professions are
> respected as professions partly because they have a
> generally accepted shared body of knowledge required by
I strongly disagree with this. We don't respect them because they have a government license. There are accreditations we do respect, such as a Harvard law degree. Although government licenses are often sold as a way to raise the level of expertise in a field, the real reasons are more along the lines of restricting the supply of practitioners so the fees can be raised.
> In theory, I'm strongly in favor of differentiation of the
> roles in software development, with licensing. However, I
> just can't see who should define the "shared body of
> knowledge" required for licensing tests. We would risk the
> some of the worst practices becoming mandated.
Even worse than that, in this country, professional licensing has been used not to drive quacks out, but to drive out minorities and women. Furthermore, even if that shared body of knowledge is perfectly defined, in a fast moving field like software, government regulation is hardly likely to keep up.
> However, I
> do consider "a required shared body of knowledge" as the
> ideal - for now, we may have to settle for an attempt to
> improve education and training, hopefully guided by
> relevant research.
I think it's a fine idea for universities to define such for their degree programs. It's a kind of accreditation that works. Just keep the law out of it.