I don’t want AI I want the real thing
People think, computers can’t; even though Alan Turing saw AI (Artificial Intelligence) coming computers have to follow commands without any idea of the context in which these demands are coming; they can’t understand what we tell them. People and their brains are still superior.
My heart sinks when I read things like Judgement Day by Nigel Rayner who believes that machines make better decisions than humans and views that machines will kick human managers to the kerb – why would we want this? To be honest I thought the argument was old hat, that we agreed the human brain was superior and human contact was the way forward but I have a couple of weeks where I have realised I am out of touch on this subject and actually you need a few things to go wrong to see how the perverse twist in this evolution – we are taking superior human brains and dumbing them down to the point of AI…is this the master plan? make people as emotionally void as machines so when we replace them no-one will notice the difference?
I am going to share (and in doing so, name & shame) some recent experiences that prove my theory:
- Mini – I bought a lovely new one less than a year ago. It has had to go back to Mini 3 times for a intermittent problem that they can’t fix because the computer hasn’t logged a fault. Me the human experiences the fault every time I drive the car away from the garage. When I ring up each time to discuss the problem a human receptionist can’t place my call because I don’t fall into one of the options on her list, so she doesn’t know what to do with me. It’s a cycle that sends my blood pressure soaring each time (next visit 14th May).
- I moved one of our business bank accounts to The CO-OP Bank because I thought they shared the same value set as us and I would have a better relationship with them over the non-existent one with HSBC. Moving our clients to new bank details takes time and although I didn’t realise their was a time limit, I received a bill for not using the account, then a letter telling me the account had been closed. When I tried to call them to get an explanation I had to go through an irritating automated (punch all your account details in here…) just to get to an operator who then wanted them all again. The human operator couldn’t deal with the issue (not on his list) and promised to get someone to call me back – still waiting…)
- BT, my mums neighbour has just lost her husband to a horrible battle with cancer, she is elderly herself so we are helping getting things sorted for her. The bill needs to be transferred to her name and she would like a paper bill to pay while she gets herself settled into life on her own. All the human operator could say in robotic fashion was the computer wouldn’t allow him to do this and we could only have one of the options on his list – none of which actually resolved the issue in hand. This painful transition is still work in progress.
- Starwood Hotels and in particular The W Hotel in Leicester Square London. A disastrous night (that I can only imagine is not the norm) being caught up in a situation where people where using cocaine, a hostile crowd culminating in fighting in the bar. Following a chat about how this was not the night we had imagined in the exclusive hotel, the Customer Services Manager said “I can’t refund the cost of the room because the computer has already taken the money”. She did though see why we had the complaint we had and was really shocked about the drugs, etc that it required further investigation. The Operations Director would be in later and we would get a call at 3pm…that was on Saturday, still waiting.
I could go on but I’m boring myself, so HSBC, 3 Mobile (who are particularly irritating) & RBS you have all got off lightly! I have discussed this effect of AI on our lives with the people around me and it seems we have forgotten what it like to get great human intelligence and customer service in our day to day lives. When we do get what we should receive as normal service we are amazed and its a real talking point e.g. Nick the concierge at The Scotsman Hotel In Edinburgh, did everything that a concierge should do; he talked to us, found out what we wanted to do and came up with suggestions to help, his responses didn’t come from a computer; they came from the knowledge he gained about us and his knowledge about the area we were in – his recommendations made a really nice difference to our stay. To be honest that is his job but we rarely see this any more and worse we don’t expect it.
I feel that we should fight back against this infiltration of AI and demand real human intelligence it will boost our moods (how many times a week does a company you pay money to send your blood pressure up?) and I’m sure the businesses who believe in it, so every week I’m going to name, shame and celebrate those businesses I have had contact with and I urge you do do the same. If the computer can say no, so can we.