Times New Roman Does No Wrong

Last week, while running errands, I stopped inside a store to pay a bill and had to sign-in first. I had been in this store before and knew the drill - type your name and toggle through the options that best explain your visit. I filled-in the information as I told myself next time to save this hassle and mail my payment.

As I finished, I looked around for a good place to awkwardly stand until my name was called.

"Steve M."

A customer service representative came to the lobby to greet next-in-line customer "Steve M."

"What?!," a group of people waiting at the front of the store declared. "We have been waiting and now two people have been called before us!"

Their patience was gone and Steve M. didn't recuse and seemed excited at his good fortune of skipping ahead of the line. I looked at the CSR to see what action she would take.

She just shrugged her shoulders and assured the group that they would be waited on next.

Back at the service counter I heard the CSR confide in Steve M. that she didn't know what the deal was that caused the situation; she was just doing what the computer told her to do and according to it, Steve M. was next.

And therein lies the problem.

Computer content is developed by humans. Sure, maybe there is a computer program that is programmed to "think for itself" - but that ability is created by humans. No chicken or egg question here.

Therefore, content generated by technology or populated by input is subject to human error and must be scrutinized. However, there is some type of phenomena that despite the repeated occurrences and mounting evidence of technology vulnerabilities - people continue to put much trust in the information that is captured on a screen. Even though wherever the information goes or where it comes from no one ever seems to surely know for certain. Somewhere in a cloud or something, right? Sure. OK. Sounds cool and works for me. 

While being skipped in line may land in the minor inconvenience end of the spectrum of life, there are certainly more serious ramifications that can occur if due diligence is not practiced in scrutinizing information and questioning data and processes.


photo courtesy of interestedbystandr