NPR – Software Is Everywhere, But It’s Not Always an Upgrade

  •  software is everywhere, sometimes doing things we don’t expect.
  •  the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, turned out that software inside the cars had been running the engines in such a way as to cheat on emissions tests
  • While possible for manufacturers to use software dishonestlya a more common problem is software that’s used to enable sloppy designs
  • A lot of times, you see systems that would be much easier to control if somebody had been thoughtful about the mechanical design,” – Chris Gerdes, professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University
    • ME (or other physical) Designers will leave the problem, assuming the control software will make up for it
    • software has mostly helped improve complex systems – would be impossible to go back to purely mechanical designs
  • software is a very necessary part of modern manufacturing. But it’s often added too late in the design process – Kara Pernice, VP Nielsen Norman Group
    • hardware-software creation is disjointed
    • Touch screens may strike customers as up to date, but they can also be a shortcut for manufacturers – skip the more careful — and time-consuming — process of “considering the human that’s going to use that technology in the end,”
  • programming was the most common cause of medical device recalls last year.
  • using new software on top of older systems is safe – “It would be so cost prohibitive to start from scratch,”
  • Columbia Law School professor Eben Moglen, who has championed transparency in software – the necessity for autonomous software systems to “explain themselves” to the people using them
    • software has allowed manufacturers to cut corners and costs
    • systems that don’t explain themselves to the human beings that interact with them are dangerous

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