I'm not a pilot but have a software developer background, so forgive my aviation naivety.
From what I understand there have been numerous issues and almost-issues relating to human air traffic controllers. Not to mention there is considerable cost and complexity required for this delicate system to work perfectly all the time.
My question is simply why do humans manually attempt to guide all aircraft in real time? Has computerized air traffic control ever been suggested, and maybe even attempted? What was the problem?
Before anyone says that air traffic control is computerized; that's not what I mean. I mean fully computerized, with digital communication between the aircraft and a central computer on the ground which continuously updates the aircraft FMS, OANS (On-Board Airport Navigation System) or similar, and autopilot with all the required information and directs aircraft as needed with optimal real time sorting and queuing.
As for more simple aircraft without FMS, OANS or other suitable systems, perhaps they are better suited for having human guidance for the foreseeable future. A speech to text interface to a computerized tower would probably be disastrous.
It seems, (probably naively) to me, that this would eliminate a lot of latency, a lot of cost, and a lot of complexity. As an aside, this appears would also give the pilot contextual awareness if desired (I cannot imagine this would be useful during normal operations), as the OANS would be able to display everything the tower can see.
Having it explained to me briefly what exactly the tower does that cannot be handled by such a system would probably enlighten me somewhat.
My own reasoning for why this isn't a good idea:
The only thing I can think of is, I can imagine that sometimes information is relayed to the tower that requires some use of context and best judgment that would be hard to implement in full in software. Perhaps there is an emergency, and the pilot needs information about advice for some ad hoc emergency landing.
However, if this is the problem, the extreme cases where a human is preferred, why not keep a few humans around, similarly to how aircraft without OANS would perhaps need humans, just in case one is needed. The vast majority of the mundane work that seems (again probably naively) incredibly better suited for a computer to deal with, be handled by, a computer?