All systems are go for launch!

We and our world consists of interwoven systems and processes that make our lives complex. “It’s complicated!”

Are ‘all systems go’ for launch always? All systems are not always go for launch, just ask NASA. I grew up following the US space race with Russia. At some point during the coverage of a launch, a man would announce, “All systems are go for launch” and the countdown would continue to blastoff. I lived in the US at the time and usually watched the CBS News coverage of all the launches. I recall that Walter Cronkite anchored almost all of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo launches. He had to carefully weave his commentary between the technical announcements that came from mission control. These announcements covered many of the systems and processes required for the final ‘go,’ or ‘no go,’ signal. It was a short signal from every department as a final checklist was covered.

I have always heard statements like, “We need a system to get this done,” or, “You’ll have to wait six weeks while we process your paperwork.” It seems there are systems and processes for everything. Just try to operate or live your day doing only random activities. We have to function within the constructs of society by working together to survive, to get things done, to work, to play, to live our lives. We exist through the use of systems and processes. There can also be a series of sub-systems—systems that are part of larger systems and processes. It can get very complex. What might happen without systems and processes? What do you think your life might be like? We would have no uniform ways of doing things, either alone or together, and would probably have no organization in our society.

So, just what is a system and what is a process? What are some of the systems and processes in your life? We humans are a system, or more precisely, a group of systems, each with processes. Breathing is a process. Our cities and societies are systems with many processes. Communication is a process that helps society operate. The telephone and the Internet are systems that have a variety of processes which help communications occur. We talk about the transit system quite a bit. In nature there can be systems of rivers and other naturally occurring systems. 

Do non-natural systems and processes always involve information, or communication, or some form of technology? It may be possible to do something in a uniform way without them, but almost always technology of some sort seems to be involved—even if the only technology used is language. I wonder if all systems and processes, other than in nature, rely on technologies? They may also involve culture and always cause, hopefully, predictable change. Although, I learned that the changes coming in the future I was led to expect through the promises of technology, do not arrive as expected. 

We humans make computers that have systems. The main computer system everybody knows of is the operating system, or OS for short. I remember when early computing was called data processing. One could say this is still all that computing is; systems that run processes to process data.

We humans are a system, or more precisely, a group of systems, each with processes.

So, maybe you are a boomer, like myself, who grew up during the time of the space race of the sixties and have heard NASA use, “All systems are go for launch!” But, even with all the best technology and management, all systems are not always go, at NASA. There were times when the countdown would be stopped and delayed for minutes, hours, or days. Systems are definitely not always go for launch. This should be something we keep in mind as we safari. 

At the time of this edit, the first manned space mission from American soil in almost a decade is set. However, there is a storm that may delay the launch. Even when all Technojungle systems are ‘go,’ a natural weather system may cause a, “All systems are not go for launch!”

Don’t all systems, from time to time, experience human operator error or interference? All systems will, at some time, experience transient errors. These are errors that may occur once or at unpredictable times making the solving of the problem difficult. With computers, we may have an error that can’t be replicated and therefore can’t be solved. Such errors are referred to as transient. Have you ever heard someone refer to a computer glitch? Mechanical devices wear out. Could some sort of Technojungle digital device one day be able to operate forever, free of glitches? Maybe smart machines will get sick, or have a mental illness like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

How do systems and processes help to make you more or less human in the Technojungle? Spend some time considering this question, since systems and processes are a huge aspect of the Technojungle and our future may consist of even more than we have today. Some could be unimaginable now and many will certainly be unexpected. We can be prepared by learning about being better human beings and living in the Technojungle.

Stop occasionally as you safari and see if you can spot the various systems and processes that surround you and even envelop you. We like systems and processes to organize our lives. Try to determine how, where and when certain systems and processes might be dehumanizing. Some systems and processes can’t be turned off. Let’s have a look at one of the most important systems and processes related to what we are studying.


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