Monday, 16 November 2020

The problem with Artificial Intelligence ….. it’s artificial

There is a problem with artificial intelligence and that is because it is artificial. No amount of coding can replace human intelligence and more than that, intuition; the ability to see the bigger picture and to make the correct assumptions and decisions from a myriad of factors. Hence the major concerns that the overhyped driverless automobile will never really become a reality.

Let us look at a much simpler example, something that happened to me today and that has left me totally frustrated, with the amount of time wasted and the sheer incompetence of the technologists and the lack of understanding of business.

A close relative indicated that a certain Apple accessory would be a suitable gift for a coming birthday and given that the closest Apple Store to where I live is some 50 km distant (not to mention all the restrictions relative to the pandemic), I sat myself down to order the item online. I was quite happy to pay the exorbitant delivery charge as it was still cheaper than the cost of petrol, parking costs and the road tolls involved in getting there in person.

Great. I find the item I want, I enter my name and delivery address, mobile number and confirm that this is all ok and then proceed to the checkout. I enter my credit card details and my national ID number (a requirement in the country I live in), card expiry date and CSV number and hit enter ….. and?

Well then my problems began. A second or two later a message pops up on my screen “Thank you for submitting your card details. As soon as the credit card is authorised we will advise you”.

Odd that. I am used to getting an immediate confirmation of payment. After all, the amount is tiny too, in the region of $90. This was at 1:30 pm.

Five minutes later I get an SMS on my mobile with a link asking me to do a verification on the credit card details. The verification consists of confirming that it is my own credit card and confirming my address. The address verification is semi-automated. As soon as I begin entering the name of the town the system pulls up a list of towns to choose from. The same happens with the street names. All very smart. Then I have to enter my national ID number, and press submit.

At 5:07 pm I get another SMS. Big problem, I am told. Some of my credit card details are WRONG! Which ones? My address and my mobile number. Apple cannot process my order. They have the gall to give me the telephone number of the credit card company.

Well the details are NOT wrong! I have lived at my current address for 14 years now and it's the same one that shows on my credit card account that arrives in the post each month. I have had the same mobile number since mid-1999!

I try to telephone Apple, but after hanging on for what seemed an age I give up. My fuming is slowly rising to boiling point. It's then that I notice that the notification came through to me via WhatApp and possibly gives me a way to communicate with the folk who don't answer the phone. So I craft a diplomatic enquiry.

17:20 <This is wrong. Please call me>

17:54 <I am waiting for a reply...... Please!!!!>

I have just about given up when at 8:16 pm I get the following reply.

<credit card company claims they have different contact details of the credit card owner>

What follows becomes a comedy of errors.

I send a reply together with a copy of the address section of the last credit card account, clearly showing the same address, but to no avail. I am told that Apple can do nothing. I must contact the credit card company.

So, seeing that they won’t (or can’t) take my money I ask them to cancel the order. Yes, they can do that, they tell me, BUT am I aware that there is a 5% cancellation fee, with a minimum of $29? NO I am not. How, I wonder, are they going to collect the cancellation fee as they can’t charge my account (or can they if it suits them)?

I have no intention of contacting the credit card company and no, I am not cancelling the order either. So much for Artificial Intelligence which is clearly at the back of all this - one machine talking to another with not intuition. Any natural intelligence would have seen the stupidity of the two errors and adjusted for them.

Perhaps the paranormal will help and someone at Apple can organize a seance to contact Steve Jobs and ask him for a solution.

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