In Defense of Humans—Machines Are Not Ready Yet
I recently submitted an internal organizational document that was spellchecked in addition to my review; several times. One sentence where there the intent was to say, “that which is …” was change to “that witch is …”
Did I type it wrong or did ‘auto correct’ take over the decision process? In any event spellcheck did not perform adequately against minimal Quality Assurance standards. And how many of us ‘fat finger’ text messages?
Is this is the technology that is going to drive me to work safely over 200 days a year; round trip? I hope not.
One pervasive message—technology gets better with time (more mature). Is this true?
How old is spellcheck? By some accounts it dates to the 1960s. Most believe by the late 1970s. So close to half a century.[i] Yet!
Usually a spellchecker is not used in a life or death situation. That is unless it’s for your resume or job application! However, what about software that is utilized for critical processes, i.e., medicine, process control, etc.
There are many examples where apparent software failures have negatively impacted human life. This pundit has written this subject including a look at Man Machine Codependency.[ii] In another blog we commented on problems associated with valid and reliable analysis of Big Data.[iii]
In this author’s opinion, software is getting better and while most likely will not be perfect, will change our daily processes. The human overlords will need to be trained and/or retrained for the digitalization era.[iv]
This cautionary tale is not about this writer’s inability to use word processing tools. As we depend on these tools for critical decision making, we must have the core knowledge of the subject we are tackling.
During a class on digitalization for my master’s level students, I put forth several examples where errors were made by various software applications. Most had a level of comedy to them, but ALL have potential real-world consequences (bold font).
- All People in Canada are the Same Age—Demographics for Census or Marketing
- In Excel 2007, multiplying 77.1 times 850 yielded 100,000 instead of the accurate answer 65,535—Accounting or Engineering
- The Making of a Fly, a classic work in developmental biology, was listed on Amazon.com as having 17 copies for sale: 15 used from $35.54, and two new from $23,698,655.93 (plus $3.99 shipping)–Procurement
- Finally, Airline Disaster on Autopilot—Safety for the Traveling Public
This writer has authored books, articles, speeches, presentations, and blogs for many years. Arguably, he can claim some experience as a writer. Subject Matter Expert?
In one instance, the ‘witch’ word won over my intent. Did the technology cause this error? Probably, as the goddess of Halloween is not something I typically pontificate about—not on my radar, so to speak.
Humans can rule for the foreseeable future. That is unless we seed to the technology. Most importantly, algorithmic errors can lead to cataclysmic business and even life events.
Finally, I spellchecked this blog before publication, and it caught the ‘witch’ word this time. Go figure.
How Prepared is Your Organization to Oversee the Digitalization Transformation?
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Critical Mass: Value from the RBC Framework
Nuclear physicists define the term, “critical mass” as the amount of fissile material whereby a nuclear reaction is self-sustaining. From that original definition, the construct is further developed along societal and political terms as a function of the environment and number of adopters and their interdependencies that create enough of a consensus for individual actions that sustains an undertaking.
In 1996, the author published the first of several case studies on a societal interaction model based on the Relationships, Behavior and Conditions (RBC) construct among economic actors. Previously the model was only in the domain of academia.
This blog addresses contemporary issues from the RBC perspective and whether in the present state they are sustainable or not. Many readers may be familiar with the “Innovation Adoption Curve.” RBC seeks to enlighten the causality of behaviors that cause movement towards the critical mass that generates movement along this diffusion curve.
- Agility, Resiliency, Sustainability May 14, 2020
- Disrupting Disruption! May 11, 2020
- Tumultuous Decade: What’s Next for Oil & Gas? April 20, 2020
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to . . . Innovation! April 4, 2020
- Is Big Data Analysis Being Applied? March 24, 2020
Other Blogs by Dr. Shemwell
Dr. Shemwell is an author/contributor for the following 3rd party blogs.
So, You Want to be an Entrepreneur
Dr. Shemwell is a member of the Global Energy Mentors (GEM) Leadership Team. Every month he or one of his colleagues is posting timely tips to help entrepreneurs navigate the energy start up sector. Check out the Landing Page.
Governing Energy Blog
BTOES Insights is the content portal for Business Transformation & Operational Excellence opinions, reports & news. Dr. Shemwell is a contributor.
Consult 2050 connects organizations with a wide range of consultants all around the world. The firm operates an online marketplace for consultancy services.
Essays on Business and Information
This two volume set covers a series of newsletters and opinion pieces published circa 2002-2009, including Bug Lore–Lessons for the Online Economy that addressed real time systems vulnerabilities from Y2K (1998-99).
About the Author
Dr. Scott M. Shemwell has over 30 years technical and executive management experience primarily in the energy sector. He is the author of six books and has written extensively about the field of operations. Shemwell is the Managing Director of The Rapid Response Institute, a firm that focuses on providing its customers with solutions enabling Operational Excellence and regulatory compliance management. He has studied cultural interactions for more than 30 years—his dissertation; Cross Cultural Negotiations Between Japanese and American Businessmen: A Systems Analysis (Exploratory Study) is an early peer reviewed manuscript addressing the systemic structure of societal relationships.