The poet, Alexander Pope once wrote, “To err is human,” and I’ve never known anyone to dispute him. That we rely on electronic devices to store our information and keep our calendars is understandable, except we forget they are designed by humans. To presume they are perfect might be another of our errors.
For example, electronic devices are terrible at recognizing gender, the most basic information we require of one another. Even so, Amazon has sold law enforcement agencies across the country its facial recognition program in the hope it will catch bad guys. The fallout from two dozen artificial intelligence experts has been unequivocal. They’ve written the company to demand it stop promoting its product precisely because it fails to distinguish between the sexes reliably. Their complaint makes no mention about transgenders, however. (The Week, April 19, 2019, pg. 21.)
Another company called Sift sells websites an algorithm with 16,000 clues that identify fraudulent bots and shuts them down. One clue shows up in the login history. Bots never forget a password. (Ibid, pg. 24.)
Robots became a nightmare for one hotel in Japan. It decided to reduce its workforce by giving simple tasks to machines. They had robot desk clerks and robot bell hops, for example. Unfortunately, the bell hops often go lost in the hallways, leading guests astray and, possibly, creating embarrassing situations. The robots broke down in the snow and rain, as well.
Another complication for the hotel was room service. A snoring guest was likely to be awakened in the middle of the night with these words: “I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you clearly. Would you repeat your instruction?” (AARP Bulletin, April 2019, pg. 50.)