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Trust and Tech: AI Education in The Military

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The average life expectancy of a non-instrument trained pilot in instrument conditions is 178 seconds — or so says a 1954 study that pilots have referenced ever since.

The point made by the aphorism is that once a pilot enters the clouds, instinct is of very little help in keeping the airplane upright. Learning to use the instruments when you can’t see outside is crucial to flying safely in the weather. But pilots learn not just to interpret the information displayed on the instruments but also to trust that information.

Every instrument-rated pilot is familiar with the phenomenon: I pass from blue sky into the clouds and transition from using the horizon to determine my aircraft’s orientation to looking at the instruments in the cockpit. The vestibular system in my ear sends my brain compelling signals suggesting that I’m in a bank turn to the right.

My natural inclination is to roll left to level the wings. But my training has taught me differently. I instead look to the attitude indicator. If it tells me that my wings are, in fact, level, then I trust the attitude indicator and fight the urge to bank the airplane. To do otherwise […]

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