What Robots Get Wrong Is Hard For People to Fix

Mon, 2017/04/17 - 1:12pm | Your editor
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As promised, here is a list of disasters over the Easter weekend which resulted from human stupidity over robots taking control of matters they had not been programmed properly to perform.

For Good Friday US subscribers to the Financial Times received a notification on how they could read an electronic edition of that newspaper on-line. It read: “How to Read the FT on Good Friday.”

Your editor, devoted to the pink paper, duly logged on to the site to read what was posted. And there result was nothing whatsoever, either in the USA, the UK, Asia, Europe, or the Middle East. In fact the newspaper worldwide was observing the closure of markets on the traditional day of the Crucifixion. There was no paper to view, unlike the case when Britain is functioning and the US is not, like on Thanksgiving.


I also again discovered that marketbeat.com, which claims to report on brokerage opinions of stocks, again dissed one of my favorite Canadian shares. After I alerted its editor, he wrote back? “We go through and ban junk publications like HiramHerald every few weeks. I'll go through and weed out the latest crop of these garbage sites on Monday.” My stupid question to Matt Paulson is why they are included in the analyst rating network emails in the first place. It is not just the one he mentions but also AmericanBankingNews.com, Twincitytelegraph.com, and other fake news sites. More on this issue for paid subscribers below.


The code generator on to my bank account went down on Friday and I got timed out every time I tried to get in. Rather than enabling me to override the device, the system shut me down despite several calls to the bank's holiday helpers in The Philippines. It was only today that I was able to order a new device and get the old one turned off. More on this for paid subscribers follows.


One of my very long-time readers who is over 80 could not get into her account on-line and for some reason did not get her e-mail either. Looking into the matter, I think I figured out that her email address included capital letters which the system does not recognize although they were probably correct when she first signed up for Global-Investing.com, which also has capitals.


There were other snafus. We had an invitation to go to Brooklyn for a family gathering near the Botanical Garden and carefully set out with an insulated cart holding cava for the adults and Passover fizzy peach juice for the children on the normal Lexington Avenue subway route. This would take us from the East Side of Manhattan to where we change for the Grand Army Plaza 7th Avenue train. There were notices all over saying the 4,5, and 6 were not running but the person using the loudspeaker could not be understood.

My cellphone did not work in the station despite the upgrading by the MTA. So I called the help line. After about 14 minutes of telling me to wait the woman at the other end admitted she did not know what we should do. As a native New Yorker I realized we could shuttle over to Time Square from Gr and Central which we did in a very packed and very infrequent train before resuming our journey without having to change trains again. But the 2 was running local and also skipping lots of stations and there was plenty of confusion among the passengers, especially tourists headed for Liberty Island or Chinatown. My hosts had to wait to deal with their dry throats.


So spare some sympathy for the worst perpetrators of unacceptable customer service last week, the tone-deaf over-bookers at United Airlines. The sad fact is that many web systems are ill-programmed leading to confusion, error, fake news, and the need for clumsy human intervention failing to resolve matters.


Today we have news from Britain, Canada, Mexico, India, the Dominican Republic, South Africa, Russia, Panama, Switzerland, Finland, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Germany, and South Korea.

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