Think like a human, not a computer

By Chad Kluck on

In movies, when computers think for us it leads to disaster (think Global Thermal Nuclear War). We often believe putting computers in charge of all of our data is the answer as they can process information quickly, filter out what we don't want and leave us with only the good stuff. You get no spam, right?

The truth is computers think in binary: on/off, open/closed, yes/no, true/false. There is no room for a grey area as they do things by the book, or program in this case, and never deviate. Unless an exception is built in it isn't followed--but go ahead and put it in a feature request for a later version.

This past Good Friday, which is a New Zealand Statutory holiday, a computer glitch turned on the lights and opened a grocery store for business even though no employees were present. Thank goodness the store had a self-check-out lane allowing many to pay for their groceries even though a few left without paying. Maybe more would have paid had the self-check-out not put itself on hold waiting for a non-existent employee to manually approve an alcohol purchase. Do you see the inconsistency of manual intervention applied here?

Computers are great at sorting out information and automating tasks, but we shouldn't leave it entirely up to them to tell us what to do all the time. Bad data gives misguided results. Errors lead to bigger errors. Review your options and don't limit yourself to one set of search results.