Computer Says No

Another excellent Clive James piece in the BBC Magazine. I keep returning to HAL in 2001 as the archetype and so it seems does Clive.

It’s not as if we haven’t seen the man-machine interface problems long enough to recognize them – Turing’s enigma – but we still idolise “efficiency” over “care”. Spot on Clive.

I’ll add care to trust as the key ingredient of the information age – and yes even the inventor(s) of the semantic web understand that – explicitly (Fig 7). You can’t trust something that doesn’t care. You trust an automated system because of the people that create and support it, but that trust is a very ephemeral quality, easily lost by the slightest exception to the (nevertheless idolised) rules and re-built only by humans, with care.

Automate “customer care” at your peril. Indeed. Automation is simply the the latest idol. When I say latest I don’t mean recent either – back to the Luddites – but the possibility of ever more computerized automation makes our idolatry more psychologically engrained and perilous each human generation. I’m in the business of automation – but it is only a means to an end – to support individual humans – decision support.

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