Thursday, March 23, 2017

Technology Crying Wolf


By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


The laser light show of the Great Pyramids is instructive and beautiful. It allows a glorious presentation of one of the world’s great wonders. It is a marriage of modern technology and ancient wonder. But some years ago this great marvel set off one of the greatest technology mismatches in modern history.

After 9/11 our military started positioning itself for a possible conflict in the Middle East. The Vietnam era C141 cargo planes began the long haul from the States to the various military bases    in the Middle East with supplies and equipment.

These great mammoths were equipped with the latest technology for defense which included a flare defense against heat seeking missiles. These flares would be fired off to draw the heat seeking missiles away from the aircraft and explode harmless in midair out of the range of the aircraft.

As these great aircrafts made their way over the area of the Great Pyramids their flares began firing. It took some research to discover the false triggering of the flares but it was soon discovered the lasers in the Pyramids light show was setting off the flares. The lasers were simulating the lasers of the guidance system of a heat seeking missile thus the flares fired to defend the aircraft from the incoming missiles, in effect crying wolf. The solution was switching the defense system to manual while in the area of the Pyramids.

Today’s technology, for the most part, does what it is intended to do. But there are cases when it goes awry. One case was the recent phantom phone calls to 911. They were generated by a problem in the lines and were signaling a 911 call as a hang up coming from a particular home. The calls were not made by the people or their children. The children were grown and not living with them and the couple were in fact not even home when some of the calls were made. The police had made several trips to the home but the owners felt sure that was about to end. A glitch in the system was crying wolf. The authorities were not about to make a false run when someone may need their help elsewhere.          

Technology crying wolf has become more common than we think. Most of it sounds like fiction but it is highly possible if it is true. Either way writers can use these believable or not events to begin a great story. I say believable because you may want to verify the two stories I used as examples. See if you can confirm either or both and let me know what you find. Was this true or was I crying wolf.


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