ChatGPT is an AI based chatbot open to the public at chat.openai.com. This post shows a little discussion I had with it, starting from the obvious, what is an air traffic controller doing, to how ATC training could be improved. And obviously, will AI replace ATC?
Vincent: What is an air traffic controller doing?
ChatGPT: An air traffic controller is responsible for directing aircraft on the ground and in the air to ensure safe and efficient operation of the air traffic system. This includes communicating with pilots, monitoring radar and other equipment to track the position and altitude of aircraft, and issuing instructions and guidance to pilots to help them maintain safe distances between aircraft and avoid collisions. Air traffic controllers also play a key role in coordinating takeoffs and landings at airports and providing assistance to pilots in the event of an emergency.
Could this be automated?
In some cases, automation can be used to assist air traffic controllers in their duties. For example, computerized systems are commonly used to monitor and track the positions of aircraft, and can provide controllers with important information and alerts to help them make more informed decisions. However, the complex and dynamic nature of air traffic means that the decision-making process cannot be fully automated at this time. As a result, air traffic controllers will continue to play a vital role in the safe and efficient operation of the air traffic system for the foreseeable future.
Can AI replace them?
It is unlikely that AI will be able to fully replace air traffic controllers in the near future. While AI technology has advanced significantly in recent years, it is still not capable of replicating the complex decision-making and problem-solving abilities of a human being. In addition, the high-stakes and dynamic nature of the aviation industry means that there is a strong need for human oversight and judgment in the operation of the air traffic system. As a result, it is unlikely that AI will be able to fully replace air traffic controllers in the near future, although it may be able to assist them in certain tasks.
At this time, I've seen the "try again" button, which I clicked to see if the second time around answer would be the same or not... Here it is.
Can AI replace them? Second try:
It is unlikely that AI will be able to fully replace air traffic controllers in the near future. While AI can be used to assist controllers in their duties, the complex and dynamic nature of air traffic means that human judgement and decision-making will continue to be essential for ensuring the safe and efficient operation of the air traffic system. Additionally, the use of AI in air traffic control raises ethical concerns and could potentially lead to the loss of jobs for human controllers. As a result, it is unlikely that AI will be able to fully replace air traffic controllers in the near future.
Is loss of job more important that the passengers' safety?
Ensuring the safety of passengers is the most important factor in the operation of the air traffic system. While the potential loss of jobs for air traffic controllers is a significant concern, it should not be allowed to compromise the safety of passengers. The safe and efficient operation of the air traffic system is essential for protecting the lives of passengers, and any decisions or actions that could potentially jeopardize their safety should be avoided. It is important to find ways to balance the need to protect passenger safety with the need to support air traffic controllers and other personnel who are essential to the operation of the air traffic system.
Are computers not better than humans to track and manage the movements of a large number of aircraft, making them better qualified than humans?
While computers are often better than humans at quickly and accurately processing large amounts of data, they are not currently able to fully replace human judgement and decision-making in the field of air traffic control. The complex and dynamic nature of air traffic means that human expertise is still essential for ensuring the safe and efficient operation of the air traffic system. Computers are commonly used to assist air traffic controllers in their duties, but they are not capable of fully replacing human controllers. It is likely that computers and other forms of automation will continue to play an important role in the field of air traffic control, but human controllers will remain a vital part of the system for the foreseeable future.
What is required for this to change?
In order for AI to be able to fully replace human air traffic controllers, several advancements would need to be made. First, AI would need to be able to make quick and informed decisions in a complex and dynamic environment, which is currently a challenge for AI systems. Additionally, AI would need to be able to understand and apply complex technical systems and procedures, and would need to be able to communicate effectively with pilots and other personnel. Furthermore, ethical concerns about the use of AI in air traffic control would need to be addressed. It is currently unclear when, or if, these advancements will be made, so it is unlikely that AI will be able to fully replace human air traffic controllers in the near future.
Ok, so far about what controller are doing and replacing them with AI. As there is a lot of material available about this online, the answers are not surprising. To try something a bit more niche-y, I asked ChatGPT the following, more specific question:
How could we improve the success of air traffic control training?
It is likely that air traffic control training programs already include many of the elements that I mentioned. However, the specific content and approach of these programs can vary, so it is difficult for me to say for certain what is included in the training without more information. In general, it is important for air traffic control training programs to provide comprehensive instruction in the technical systems and procedures used in the field, as well as training in decision-making, problem-solving, and communication skills. Providing ongoing support and guidance to trainees throughout the training process can also be helpful in ensuring their success.
The first responses are ok, and the more general but also precise question about how to improve the success rate leads to a very general answer.
While the feeling and the answers are impressive, we should not forget that tools like ChatGPT are great to find information, they don't create new knowledge.