Absolute security is impossible

This week’s news that the copilot of a Germanwings flight appears to have crashed the plane into a mountain (not, it is suspected, for reasons of terrorism, but rather for reasons related to concealed depression or mental illness) highlights one of the reasons that 100% security is impossible:

everything is a matter of trade-offs.

Andreas Lubitz was able to do what he did in large part because, once the pilot stepped out of the cockpit, Lubitz was able to *lock him out* in a way that it was impossible for him to gain entry – a technological adaptation installed in planes after 9-11, out of concern that it was really important to ensure that nobody could break in to a cockpit and take control of a plane from resisting flight officers.

We can’t protect ourselves against everything. We have to accept that protecting against one thing often means making ourselves more vulnerable to another, and we have to weigh and assess the likelihood of different risks and the severity of different risks and *judge* – knowing that some risk will always exist no matter what we do.

This is a lesson that modern society, obsessed with safety and security as it is, often seems to forget.


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