Just a Theory

By David E. Wheeler

Posts about Safety Culture

Deep Expertise

Zeynep Tufekci, in an editorial for The New York Times, following the news that Elon Musk got defensive about his rejected mini-sub plan to rescue the kids in the Thai Cave last week:

The Silicon Valley model for doing things is a mix of can-do optimism, a faith that expertise in one domain can be transferred seamlessly to another and a preference for rapid, flashy, high-profile action. But what got the kids and their coach out of the cave was a different model: a slower, more methodical, more narrowly specialized approach to problems, one that has turned many risky enterprises into safe endeavors — commercial airline travel, for example, or rock climbing, both of which have extensive protocols and safety procedures that have taken years to develop.

This “safety culture” model is neither stilted nor uncreative. On the contrary, deep expertise, lengthy training and the ability to learn from experience (and to incorporate the lessons of those experiences into future practices) is a valuable form of ingenuity.

So important.

Sadly, Musk seems unable to take this lesson. Instead, following criticism from one of the British divers who led the effort to save the kids, Musk posted a series of profoundly disgusting tweets suggesting that the diver is a pedophile.

Stay classy, Silicon Valley cult-of-personality.