Bob Cringely was writing about the concept of big sky in one of his recent columns and I thought that it was worthwhile sharing here.
Origins of big sky theory in early flight
Big Sky theory came from early aviation. The main problem pilots faced was crashing into the ground rather than a mid-air collision. There was relatively few planes happening compared to the big sky out there. That meant the odds of collision were so low as to be not worth worrying about.
Or as Cringely put it:
Another version of Big Sky is Inshallah, an Arabic language expression meaning “if God wills” or “God willing.” The term is mentioned in the Quran and Muslims often use it when speaking about future events. Climate change or organized crime or the well running dry or uncontrolled instrument flight won’t negatively affect us if we are on the correct side of God, Inshallah.Bob Cringely
It was only with the increasing air travel of the mid-1950s that the air traffic controller directed traffic we are used to now came into force. This traffic controller directed process is known as positive control.
Data as antidote
The phrase is used in areas such as environmental concerns around climate change, deforestation or peak oil. It makes the most sense when based on individual empirical experience or opinion. It works really well in rhetoric. Often dangerously so. It is usually countered by the use of data. Data provides qualitative risk calculations. Data is now used to conduct planes along airways one after the other. It is the same with shipping lanes.
From economics to pandemic prevention data based regulation has proved it’s worth.
In essence it represents thinking 180 degrees away from Malthusian ideas. More similar content here.