Risk Assessment & Responsibility

By Scott Spangler on June 26th, 2023

The North Atlantic compaction of the Titan submersible on its Titanic adventure has generated some interesting media efforts that approach the mishap from various angles. It has a lot in common with airborne adventures. The only difference is the viscosity or density of the fluid of its environment. The fundamental risks are the same. And so are the responsibilities.

Ultimately, each of us is responsible for the consequences of our decisions be they prosaic or once-in-a-lifetime. People, it seems, often forget this when the consequences turn out oppositely from what they expected. They start looking for someone or something to blame, assuming they survived, but this does not change the outcome, especially when the decision includes the possibility of fatal consequences.

Every aspect of life is a calculated risk, and every decision could have fatal consequences if one does not consider every aspect involved with the forthcoming risk. Consider crossing the street. You need to look both ways. But you also need to look in the correct direction first, into the oncoming traffic of the lane you’re about to step into. In many parts of the world, that is to the left. But if you employ this rote risk assessment in places where they drive on the other side of the road, looking left could be the last thing you do as you step in front of a truck bearing down on your vulnerable six-o’clock posterior.

Risk assessment is simply the process of pragmatically searching for everything that could go wrong. This process is the same whether you’re crossing the street or buying a six-figure ticket for a ride into space or the Titanic Deep. The price of the forthcoming adventure in no way guarantees its degree of risk or level of safety. Another immutable reality of life is that nothing is 100 percent safe. Whether aiming for Darwinian notoriety or just trying to make it through the day, we humans continue to make decisions that lead to fatal consequences.

In making decisions, acceptance of the potential risks is a factor to go forward or return a no thanks. A related responsibility is not taking others with you without giving them a full accounting of potential consequences so they can conduct their own risk assessment while there is adequate time to say no thanks and decide to do something else. Pushing forward when the fuel gauge tickles E or the ceiling and visibility merge into a seamless grayscale puts pilots in the unconscionable position of deciding the future of others’ lives.

Adventures into fluids thick (water) or thin (air) usually involve complexities beyond the comprehension of nongeeks, but that doesn’t mean the prospective adventurer can’t ask questions, starting with ”What outside agency or organization has examined the pertinent details and tools of this adventure and found it reasonably safe.” And does this examination list the potential unwanted outcomes and how the operator has prepared for them?

Pragmatism and skepticism are life-sustaining traits key to any of life’s risk assessments, and if the adventure being offered seems too good to be true, no matter the price, a bold slug of cynicism is an excellent filter for any sales pitch. –Scott Spangler, Editor



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