Automation can be a boon for a company, but it can also be a serious liability, as one Ibrahim Diallo could easily tell you after his ordeal of being unceremoniously and unstoppably canned by the system while managers and even the company director stood powerless. Diallo’s story started off looking like something had merely malfunctioned, but by the end of it, his file had to be thrown out entirely and he had to be brought in as a new employee, despite only being 8 months into a 3 year contract. While Diallo was eventually restored to his rightful status and continued working, the incident made him miss three weeks of work, a dangerous proposition in today’s economy.
Ibrahim Diallo was a contractor who joined up with a new contract for a company at just the wrong time. The company had been sold, and a hiring manager who was a full-time employee had been knocked down to contractor status and sent to work from home as a budget measure. As such, when it came time to confirm and renew the contract that Diallo happened to be on, the manager didn’t get around to it. The termination process for contractors in the company was automated, so the days-long, snowballing process began. First, Diallo’s card key was deactivated, then he could no longer park. At one point, he had to use his personal Linux setup to “hack” into the system and fix some critical errors, which of course sprung mostly from issues concerning the system deactivating his profile little by little. Eventually, the system sent an angry-sounding and official-looking email that put the director who praised Diallo’s shining work and the security guard he was good friends with in the awkward position of escorting him off the premises. It took him three weeks of touching base with his recruiter and watching his personal support ticket go up the ladder before he was able to return to work.
The moral of the story here is a common trope in the world of AI, from simple automated programs like this one all the way up to complex, humanlike AI and self-driving cars; there has to be some way for humans to intervene. In this case, the organization had to go three weeks with others picking up the slack, and Diallo had to go three weeks without a paycheck. Compared to the potential consequences of unsafe and unreliable AI, however, this could be considered light.