AI: The Robots Are Already in Control (Part Two)

In my last blog post “The Robots (AI) Are Already in Control (Part One)” I reminded users about the headaches involved with system migrations. Our working lives are already controlled by technology. This was to set the stage for the next part of the conversation.

Before I go down that rabbit hole, let me say that I appreciate technology, but I am a late adopter. I’d rather let everyone else pour time and money into sorting out new technology issues, and then adopt after the kinks have been worked out. Automating my working life is a fun question that I’m exploring. I use Alexa at home for reminders, timers, weather and music.

Yesterday, I was excited to see my android phone, using Google Assistant, could send an email for me on a voice command! (If someone knows how to get it to provide proper punctuation and sentence structure, please Comment below!) It also was able to set up a calendar entry on my work calendar on Outlook with a voice command. I’m intrigued by our institution’s version of Microsoft Power Automate, and I’m still trying to figure out how to optimize it.

I appreciate the grammar and spell check options in Word, and recently noticed that Google Sheets is automatically using nearby formulae to offer suggestions.

In my opinion, these are all useful and appropriate AI-generated tools that can make our lives easier.

We Are Embedded

That being said, as IT, legal or information experts, we spend most of our precious lives connected to various administrative systems.

These systems run our lives. If a key system is down or has been compromised, we are literally paralyzed by it. These systems are an extension of our brains.

A relative mentioned recently that their pay has been inaccurate for months. This person has shaken the tree all the way to the top – but the issue has not been resolved. I speculated that it’s likely that their unconventional employment arrangement hasn’t been configured in the payroll system. So orgs literally cannot cut a cheque without the computer system.

How vulnerable does that make us?

Anyone who has been involved in system migration knows that the IT folks can only do so much configuration. We can’t configure our way out of un-cooperative architecture.

From the standpoint of administrative systems, the Robots are already in control. Here’s the list as I see it:

1. Users can’t see functionality that they don’t have permissions for, so problem-solving is impossible. At least if functionality were simply greyed-out, we’d know to ask for additional permissions.

2. Customer service personnel don’t have authority in the system to be able to override parameters. Customer service takes a toll.

3. A handful of “expert” users were trained to teach everyone else in the organization how to use the tool. Burn-out occurs as they try to prop up everyone else’s struggles to re-circuit their brains.

4. Historical data was not migrated and still sits on the “old” system.

And on and on.

Enter AI

Last week, I was attempting to book my stay at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Montreal for the CALL Conference in June. Of course, to login, it’s best to use your Marriott Bonvoy credentials. Well mine have never worked since I received the card, so I phoned them up. The call went something like this:

“Welcome to Marriott Bonvoy. We have a special offer for those over the age of 50. If you are over the age of 50, please press one. If you are under the age of 50, press two.” (Of course there was no “If you’d like to get on with your business, please press three.”) So I pressed one. I was immediately transferred to a very cheerful, fast talking female representative. She gave the details of the free medical alert bracelet on offer. I’m generally a patient person, so let this go on for a bit. Then finally, fed up, I said “Sorry, I’m not interested”. The voice did not skip a beat, moving on to the next talking point. So I repeated myself. She talked right over me. Finally I said “May I speak please?” with aggravation.

The system wholly hung up on me.

It was then that I realized that the chipper female representative was, in fact, an AI chat bot.

In an attempt to either be cool or to save money, or both, Marriott Bonvoy is effectively, at present, denying telephone service to all patrons over the age of 50.

This is just a taste of the unintended consequences of letting AI loose into the wild, unmonitored.

The post AI: The Robots Are Already in Control (Part Two) appeared first on Slaw.

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