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The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers 162

Posted by samzenpus
from the running-on-time dept.
Taco Cowboy writes The subway system in Hong Kong has one of the best uptimes: 99.9%, which beats London's tube or NYC's sub hands down. In an average week as many as 10,000 people would be carrying out 2,600 engineering works across the system — from grinding down rough rails to replacing tracks to checking for damages. While human workers might be the ones carrying out the work, the one deciding which task is to be worked on, however, isn't a human being at all. Each and every engineering task to be worked on and the scheduling of all those tasks is being handled by an algorithm. Andy Chun of Hong Kong's City University, who designed the AI system, says, "Before AI, they would have a planning session with experts from five or six different areas. It was pretty chaotic. Now they just reveal the plan on a huge screen." Chun's AI program works with a simulated model of the entire system to find the best schedule for necessary engineering works. From its omniscient view it can see chances to combine work and share resources that no human could. However, in order to provide an added layer of security, the schedule generated by the AI is still subject to human approval — Urgent, unexpected repairs can be added manually, and the system would reschedule less important tasks. It also checks the maintenance it plans for compliance with local regulations. Chun's team encoded into machine readable language 200 rules that the engineers must follow when working at night, such as keeping noise below a certain level in residential areas. The main difference between normal software and Hong Kong's AI is that it contains human knowledge that takes years to acquire through experience, says Chun. "We asked the experts what they consider when making a decision, then formulated that into rules – we basically extracted expertise from different areas about engineering works," he says.
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The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers

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  • So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by benjfowler (239527) on Monday July 07, 2014 @09:45AM (#47399051)

    In other words, this is basically Drools, plus a ton of billable consulting hours?

    • by peragrin (659227)

      Even better. We are starting to replace PHB's who know next to nothing bit are still in charge.

      I can't wait until we can replace lawyers with an abacus and a cukoo-clock.

    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shoten (260439) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:08AM (#47399243)

      In other words, this is basically Drools, plus a ton of billable consulting hours?

      Actually, it's probably something more like TIBCO BusinessEvents with an orchestration engine added. But what's really cool is that they did the hard part: codifying the actual rules under which the overall system operates. That's where these kinds of systems either fly or fall. There are tons of rules that organizations use to make decisions, but a lot of those rules are quite informal and don't operate at a central point of authority. It takes a lot of digging to find them all, so that the undocumented process (for example) used by the foreman of the team that does rail maintenance to manage overtime among his crew gets incorporated into the overall chaining logic. Otherwise, the new system will either fail to reflect reality as teams rearrange their own schedules out of sync with their directives, or will wreak havoc among the employees.

      • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:13AM (#47399287)

        Actually, it's probably something more like TIBCO BusinessEvents with an orchestration engine added

        Back in my time, we called what they have done now "an expert system". I fail to see why that designation should be suddenly inadequate.

        • by Shoten (260439)

          Actually, it's probably something more like TIBCO BusinessEvents with an orchestration engine added

          Back in my time, we called what they have done now "an expert system". I fail to see why that designation should be suddenly inadequate.

          Because back then, that was a conceptual description that (if it became real) described an entirely custom system that was built from the ground up. These days, there are multiple types of such systems, most of which are built along specific architectural lines using COTS. Just like once upon a time, "car" was a pretty good descriptor because the next level of detail went WAY into the weeds. Now, there are sports cars, SUVs, minivans, coupes, etc.

        • Back in my time, we called what they have done now "an expert system". I fail to see why that designation should be suddenly inadequate.

          Part of building an expert system is getting expert input, but that doesn't mean that everything with expert input is "an expert system." Hopefully everything you build gets input from experts (that is, from the ones who know what the system should do; that could be you or the users).

          • True, but if it encodes expert knowledge so as to emulate an expert's decision using some kind of inference engine using that knowledge database, it does definitely qualify as an expert system, wouldn't you say? (At least as having an expert system component, if that's not all there is to the particular larger system.)
            • by Teancum (67324)

              I'm betting that in this case "expert system" has become an abused term that the marketing guys of the software developer want to strongly avoid due to bad experiences (like the Denver Airport) over the years. Either that or because the people involved were originally from China, the translation of the term got mangled going from English to Chinese and back to English again. I am strongly suspecting more of the latter though.

              You are correct, this simply is an expert system applied to a large practical app

        • by tomhath (637240)

          Back in my time, we called what they have done now "an expert system". I fail to see why that designation should be suddenly inadequate.

          "Artificial Intelligence" predates "expert system", there was never a good reason to use a different term. Plus there was so much unfulfilled hype about Expert Systems and Knowledge Engineering back in their heyday that the terms have a negative connotation to many people.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Because it's using its rules to make decisions that humans wouldn't have thought of.
          Where is an expert system is just the same things humans would have done, just automated and faster.

          • Because it's using its rules to make decisions that humans wouldn't have thought of.

            But that's exactly what inference engines are for.

        • Makes me recall the project I did for AI class back in university. Built an Expert System using VB (v6 probably) and Access (ya ya I know), where I took a pub that was a favorite in the City, that had 30+ different beers on tap. I then classified each beer by a number of different metrics (dark, light, ale, etc...). The user would then answer a number of questions about what their drink preferences were, and at the end, the system would spit out beer recommendations.

          Was a pretty small easy fun system to bui

          • by mikael (484)

            There was another variation where you could give the expert system a list of ingredients that you had available, and the system would tell you which drinks you could make and optionally how many.

            Back in the 1990's, having a expert system that could generate the course timetables for the whole university was a holy grail of all AI departments. Most of the time it worked but every now and again it would generate courses that clashed, requiring some extra modification. Never knew whether they got it finally wo

      • Right, we use similar software to dispatch field techs. Techs all have company smartphones now, they dont even come into work unless they need supplies. We wrote an app that figures out where they are and where the closest job is to them. They head over there, do their work, update the ticket with any changes they made so records can be updated and it then gives them the next closest. The productivity increases were staggering and there were even other benefits like decrease vehicle wear and such, but calli

        • Does that look at traffic as well?

          Some times it can be better to let the tech see the full job list and plan there own day based on local info.

          • Does that look at traffic as well?

            Some times it can be better to let the tech see the full job list and plan there own day based on local info.

            It still needs to get fixed either way, but yes the tech can skip a job. There are stats involved so if you skip lots of them you're going to have to explain why. The rulesets are somewhat complicated, it doesn't just pick the closest one... How old is the ticket? Is it a major piece of equipment? Etc... They can even merge the tickets on the fly... are these 10 sites out of service because of that other ticket down the line? etc...

            This isn't a small system. It manages hundreds of techs all over the countr

            • But still you can have 2 tickets and due to traffic you can get to one site right away and the other will take 1 hour to get to but after going to one site traffic frees up and you can get to that 1 hour site in to 10-20 min.

              • Re:So... (Score:4, Interesting)

                by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday July 07, 2014 @02:22PM (#47401617)

                But still you can have 2 tickets and due to traffic you can get to one site right away and the other will take 1 hour to get to but after going to one site traffic frees up and you can get to that 1 hour site in to 10-20 min.

                that's of minor concern. You need to understand how this stuff was done prior to these systems.

                15yrs ago, the tech would drive into work, pick up a stack of work orders off a printer, get in his van and head out in whichever route he thought best. You'd not see the guy for 4hrs, then he'd head back in, grab another stack and so on.

                Now he doesn't even come in. He just looks at his phone and heads to the specified location. The phone even links the location to google maps. Now he can't get lost. The app tells the office where he's at, not that they care... but if he's been on the same ticket for 6hrs they can see he's at the house or if he stopped by a local lake to do some fishing which is something that actually happened quite frequently prior to dispatching software. I used to have to schedule dispatches with other companies we did buisness with and it was common back in the 90s for the tech not to show up on time so, if they were on main street or near the center of town, I'd have the customer stick their head out the front door and look for the techs van. They'd often be at a local don-nut shop or bar waiting for the appointment and get too busy chatting. The customer would have to run down and get them. It was insanely frustrating. Now the dispatcher can update the ticket and make the techs phone chirp.

                Traffic delays aren't that big of a deal in comparison.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          SO your system will dispatch people in a way no human would of thought of?
          Sending out nearby jobs is a lot different then taking every rule into account and letting the system dictate which jobs to do in what order even if on initially glance it doesn't seem to make sense.

          I've seen some of these system, and the word that often comes tom mind when trying to pick apart why it makes certian decsions is 'creepy'
          Simple example.
          Why did it move a crew across town instead of doing a nearby jobs. seems broken, crew

        • by Teancum (67324)

          It still is AI, or at least as much as "AI" becomes in video games. IMHO about on the same level too.

  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kruach aum (1934852) on Monday July 07, 2014 @09:45AM (#47399053)

    Everything currently run by committee should ideally be run by an AI with limited human oversight in the future. Groups of humans suck at the two things AIs are great at: remembering things and making decisions.

    • Isaac Asimov, the Machines in "The Evitable Conflict", 1950. James Blish, the City Fathers of "Cities in Flight", 1957. Christopher Anvil, the Symbiotic Computers of the Interstellar Patrol, various stories, 1960s.

      The AI usually takes over. For our own good, of course, in the most loving and paternal way.
      • ... in science fiction. I hope you are aware of what "fiction" means, otherwise I fear there are greater threats on your horizon than evil AIs.

    • by Teancum (67324)

      It would be impressive if legal code could somehow be "compiled" for syntax checks as well as encoded in such a way that it becomes expert system rules. That way, asking if a particular action was legal simply would be running it through the "AI" to find out.

      That would sort of make some of the stuff that judges do to become obsolete, but is that a bad thing too?

  • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Monday July 07, 2014 @09:46AM (#47399057)

    Laws, paperwork, unions, paperwork, regulations and paperwork wouldn't allow this to happen.

    • by oodaloop (1229816) on Monday July 07, 2014 @09:49AM (#47399083)
      I dunno. If a corporation smells a profit in it, then I think they'll find a way.
    • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:07AM (#47399225) Homepage Journal

      Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. It's those unions. Those ones whose membership has been steadily and measurably been decreasing for 30 years(almost exactly at the same rate as wage stagnation occurs, as a complete coincidence).

      How small does Snowball's organization have to get before you stop believing he's behind everything?

      • by russotto (537200)

        Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. It's those unions. Those ones whose membership has been steadily and measurably been decreasing for 30 years(almost exactly at the same rate as wage stagnation occurs, as a complete coincidence).

        Public service unions are the major exception; the general decline is irrelevant when US mass transit is still almost completely union.

        • by tepples (727027)

          the general decline is irrelevant when US mass transit is still almost completely union.

          Except for the decline in mass transit itself. It starts by eliminating Sunday service, then nights, then Saturday evenings, then Saturday service at all in the outskirts, and you end up getting one bus an hour if you're lucky.

      • by CRCulver (715279)
        Not to mention that high-performing metro systems worldwide are highly unionized.
      • by DarthVain (724186)

        The guy obviously has no clue. Look at ANY large IT project in the US.

        1) Unions not involved. It is all outsourced to consultants.
        2) Consultants hire overseas employees, and overcharge services
        3) Blame government, make off like bandits with all the loot.

        My favorite recent example was the 600 Million wasted by NY city trying to automate payroll called CityTime.
        Please tell me how "Laws, paperwork, unions, paperwork, regulations and paperwork" caused that?
        The same "Laws" that sentenced three of the contractors

        • Privatization is a mistake. It's just a way of incorporating someone's (sometimes obscenely disproportionate) profit into the cost of getting things done.

    • And nimbys

      Anytime the NYC subway wants to shut down part of the system for maintenance, everyone complains and runs to their local political boss

      Same in Long Island for the lirr. They are building a second track in a large part of the system and people who drive don't want the extra trains because it will make them wait longer at crossings

      • OTOH the "Fast Track" programs have become more popular (or at least less disliked) because they demonstrably *work*. Close down a line for a long weekend and the job gets done, rather than "overnights only" taking multiple weeks. Some tasks just can't be done halfway.
    • by PPH (736903)

      Of course not for somthing as critical as maintenance planning and scheduling. But its OK for air traffic control [wikipedia.org] functions. Where the consequences [dailymail.co.uk] of a bad rule set are not nearly as serious.

    • Unions. The word you are looking for is unions will never allow their work to be parsed by an AI that might increase productivity and might discern when crews are slacking and wasting time.
    • After 30 years of off shoring Unions are weak and ineffective in America. Laws can and will be changed. Paperwork can be automated and digitally stored and regulators can be captured.

      The reason you're not seeing this in America is the top 1% won't pay the taxes for the infrastructure development, and they've got all the money. 1%ers don't use the subway...
    • The union crews work a given number of hours. Assigning them what to work on each day would be perfectly normal.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      We already have it. Let's not allow facts and logic to actually change your narrative, you just go on being stupid.

  • Expert System (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DontBlameCanada (1325547) on Monday July 07, 2014 @09:49AM (#47399089)
    This is a perfect example of an Expert System [wikipedia.org].

    Expert Systems have been one of the most successful and longest used AI models in industry. FPGA routing and layout programs have relied on this form of AI since the early/mid 90's.
    • by TWX (665546)
      And here I was thinking it sounded like Alpha Complex.

      Maybe a little paranoia once in awhile isn't such a bad thing.
      • Don't worry, you can trust the computer.

      • To much Science Fiction and not enough Science Fact.
        A common theme in Science Fiction is the idea that technology will replace humans, which is often true. However most SciFi usually takes this idea and follows the slippery slop to a far more interesting to read, but most likely not possible worst case situation.

        SciFi books about say a middle grade analyst having to change careers in his mid 40's because technology had made his current job obsolete. Is rather dull. But if that system some how became the al

        • (Disclaimer: I am not a fiction writer)

          I could totally see an interesting book about a middle-grade analyst having to change careers because his job gets taken over by a computer. It would start with the analyst, who is pretty much coasting through his career trying to hit retirement, the work so routine that he can do it in his sleep, going into the office one day and seeing a bunch of his friends, people he entered the workforce with, leaving with their personal effects in boxes, their jobs having been ta

    • Re:Expert System (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:25AM (#47399399) Homepage
      I don't even know if I'd classify something like this as "AI". It's just running an algorithm using lots of information and doing complex calculations. Way more complex than any person could do, but they are not the kind of actions I would generally consider "intelligent". Efficient allocation of resources works great for computers, because they aren't biased. They don't give their friends extra shifts or wait until later to call in a repair crew because the didn't like the attitude of the person who reported the problem.
      • Re:Expert System (Score:4, Interesting)

        by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Monday July 07, 2014 @11:35AM (#47399945)

        I don't even know if I'd classify something like this as "AI". It's just running an algorithm using lots of information and doing complex calculations. Way more complex than any person could do, but they are not the kind of actions I would generally consider "intelligent".

        It is a curse for the field of AI that it's generally defined quite vaguely as "trying to do things in computers that humans do better than computers". Why, so many things people consider "not AI" today are commonplace precisely because AI researchers dedicated a lot of their time to solving them! Once you solve an AI problem, in minds of many people, it ceases to be not only a problem, but also a matter for AI. The area in question is known as "automated planning and scheduling", and the reason why you don't think it should be classified as AI is to a large extent because it was the AI researchers who largely solved it back in the 1970s or so.

        • Re:Expert System (Score:4, Insightful)

          by blackiner (2787381) on Monday July 07, 2014 @12:06PM (#47400219)
          Reminds me of how my AI professor described AI. You have two types of AI, strong and weak, strong being something akin to a conscious thinking mind (and not even guaranteed to be possible at the moment), and weak being stuff like data mining, translation, speech-to-text, puzzle solvers, etc. She also let us know that things are only considered AI until they are solved, then they are just 'algorithms', which I think mirrors people's perceptions of AI quite nicely.
        • Not unlike philosophy. When philosophy answers one of its nagging questions, suddenly it becomes math or logic or science.
          • by Boronx (228853)

            That's backwards. Philosophy only solves its nagging questions by *resorting* to math or logic or science.

        • by Boronx (228853)

          The trend suggests that in the limiting case, humans are not intelligent.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        You don't consider it intelligent becasue you have tricked yourself into thinking you understand it.

    • Yes, the math behind the system in TFA was discovered by none other than John Von Neumann [wikipedia.org], who is also credited with inventing the aritechture that all modern computers are based on. FPGA routing and layout design uses path finding algorithms, the similarity is that they are both optimisers. MinMax, path finding and other optimization algorithms are all part of a branch of maths called Operations Research, or simply "logistics" to Americans. It gained it's original name and it's connection with computers du
    • The article says that they're using a genetic algorithm. I'm no expert at AI, but my understanding is that an ordinary expert system doesn't use a genetic algorithm; an expert system just involves percolating propositions through a bunch of human-specified if/then statements.

      I'd hazard a guess that the system described here is using the human-specified rules as part of the fitness function for the genetic algorithm. That's one way a system could use human-specified rules, but I think it's different from h

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2014 @09:54AM (#47399137)

    What we see now are the first steps towards making a big chunk of management obsolete. Expert systems are well on their way to out-compete managers who in many situations cannot make decisions of the same quality as an AI. Or to put it differently: An AI can make better decisions than a human in many areas. And in these areas humans (managers) will not be able to compete.

    • by ZeroPly (881915)
      You are conflating management with leadership. Expert systems can handle a lot of the logistics, but they can't determine that Billy Bob had a rough 4th of July weekend, and it would be best to have him do his paperwork today instead of working on the electrical junction box that has water damage.
      • by geekoid (135745)

        "but they can't determine that Billy Bob had a rough 4th of July weekend, and it would be best to have him do his paperwork today instead of working on the electrical junction box that has water damage."

        Says who?

        • by ZeroPly (881915)
          Says someone who has actually been doing this for a living, and doesn't subscribe to the naïve twenty-something techie view that the world can be fixed through software.
      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        but they can't determine that Billy Bob had a rough 4th of July weekend, and it would be best to have him do his paperwork today instead of working on the electrical junction box that has water damage.

        If my scheduling system can take this recommendation into account, why wouldn't the AI be capable of doing it?

  • by jovius (974690) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:02AM (#47399187)

    "People get scared when you talk to them about AI,"

    Team Leader, please report to the debriefing room ASAP.

  • This is far more common then you would imagine... The fact it's being applied to a subway system in this manner is pretty novel.
    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "This is far more common then you would imagine... The fact it's being applied to a subway system in this manner is pretty novel."

      Every railway that deserves its name uses something like that.
      Even if their 'underground' lines are shorter than a subway, which is the only distinction I can see.

      Also usually when you make 'noise' at night, above-ground is usually more problematic than 20 feet below the street level in a tunnel.

  • It's here already? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ken_g6 (775014) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:14AM (#47399299) Homepage

    Is it called Manna? [marshallbrain.com]

    • Its kind of hard to take seriously a story that basically talks about how communism will fix everything. We tried it; before it was called "the Australia Project", it went by "the China project" and "the Soviet project".

      I wont spoil the endings; you can read about it on wikipedia [wikipedia.org].

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        Please provide some more details about "The Australia Project", which I guess was Australia's famous experiment with communism that somehow no one has ever heard of?

        • Its from the story he linked. It posits a future where AI runs the American economy, leading to decidedly mediocre standards for everyone. The alternative posited is "the Australia project' which is basically continent-wide communism due to robot labor, renewable energy, and no pollution.

          Its all great sounding stuff, but its also complete nonsense.

          • That's not quite how I remember Manna.

            The reason the American economy is trashed in the world Manna envisions is not because it's run by an AI but because America failed to adjust to a post-work society. Everyone is on social security/benefits, because hardly anyone has a job as it was all automated away or pirated. So people have a kind of futuristic subsistence lifestyle in which robots attend to their basic needs but they can never get anything more.

            The Australia project, on the other hand, is not meant

            • The Australia project, on the other hand, is not meant to be communist

              Lets see...

              * Everyone gets an equal share. The only semblence of an economy is the fact that everyone gets 1000 credits.
              * Everyone controls the means of production
              * No one is required to do a specific amount of work: its all "whatever you can chip in"

              That sounds a lot like communism to me.

              Saying "dont call it communism, cause that conjures up all the horrific attempts at it in the real world" is a bit too idealistic for me. Looking at the track record for an idea and its implement

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Next time maybe we can try something that involves actual communism rather than just a communist banner carried by authoritarian thugs. Hint: if members of the government are living substantially better than the poorest members of society, it's not actually communism.

        • Its a strange thing that Communism tends to be espoused by folks who seem to be well informed and intelligent, but who invariably miss the fact that it attracts the sort of people who make it not work (authoritarians).

          Also, Communist China came close. It failed for MANY reasons, and authoritarianism wasnt it. Farmland was redistributed so that farmers could do their farming for all, but farmers tended to sell the farmland for a quick payout. Communal kitchens were set up, but they tended to lower the qua

          • by geekoid (135745)

            That's a nice 6th grade interpretation of communism, well done.
            I can point to mane of those exact same flaws with democracies.

            Of course, if robots do the work, then why doesn't it work?

            The funny thing is how most people posting are confusing Communism, Marxism, Leninism and Socialism.

            The problems you state come from Leninism, not Communism itself. Leninism is what created the central market, and state control by a vanguard party, as opposed to a common rule of law.
            Leninism is what causes the USSR to fail. T

          • You know, in a imaginary future where machines outcompete humans in every task, and no job is available for more humans to perform anymore, all those problems you cited just go away.

      • But now we have robots! Surely the problem with previous attempts was simply a lack of technology and resources which we have now solved.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        How about you look at China, where they seem to have a very big economy.

        Anyways, robotic system will remove the reason communism failed.
        So if I have robotic workers, why would people need to work?

    • That story bugs me, not the technology or anything. Just the fact that he spends the first 40% of it lamenting how bad things are and how the wealthy just want to live their life of leisure and leave everyone else to rot in the slums. Then the main character suddenly becomes fabulously wealthy and... leaves everyone else to rot in the slums while he farms... I guess... No one, not even the "good guys" with essentially limitless resources actually tries to change the system that is leaving 99% of humanity

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:28AM (#47399431)
    The article was posted by someone who does not appear to have been around computers in industrial applications. Computers have been used for at least 4 decades for maintenance planning in large facilities as well as other areas such as transportation routing, product blending, production scheduling, etc. The maintenance activities for the London tube or the NYC subway are likely also being planned and scheduled using some sort of similar system even if the uptime result is not as good as Hong Kong.
    • by steelfood (895457)

      The maintenance activities for the London tube or the NYC subway are likely also being planned and scheduled using some sort of similar system

      I can't speak for London, but you'd be surprised about how backwaters the U.S. can be, especially in government organizations. When contracts are dragged out far beyond the initial bid (or even estimate, in a no-bid situation), it's more cost effective to do nothing and stick with paper and pencil. Check out the CityTime project if you want to see what happens to government contracts. It's an extreme case, certainly, but similar things happen on all scales, from the union workers to the contractor all the w

  • Manna (Score:2, Insightful)

    by brunes69 (86786)

    Relevant. Must-read short story if you haven't.

    http://marshallbrain.com/manna... [marshallbrain.com]

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday July 07, 2014 @11:27AM (#47399899) Journal
    We have talked to the experts. Extracted their wisdom. Encoded it into machine readable rules. Proved that all the expertise has been extracted by the 99.9% up time.

    So, naturally, the next step is to fire all those people who would no longer have something to contribute. As a purely added bonus all these people fresh out of things to contribute happen to be with years and years of experience, which means seniority and high pay.

    The mid level bean counter would think, "well, I should be able to fire at least 20 of them. Savings of 2 million on pay, another million in benefits, almost 10 mill over three years. Even if I have to let the SOBs CEO and CFO grab a mill each, I should be able to get at least 250 K for myself. Time to fire up power point, 'Work Force Optimization due to the increased Efficiency achieved by the AI system. By Gottah Avemyb Onus, Sr Vice President, Hatchet Division'"

    • by ledow (319597)

      And the problem is?

      What you're suggesting is that we should choose the inefficient methods because it's more expensive but involves unnecessary humans. Quite where the logic of that lies, I can't tell.

      If they'd hired some smarty who did the same for their company, and gave 99.9% up-time by their work, surely the same would still happen - except maybe they'd pay that guy a lot as well?

      The case for "sabotaging" (look up the origin of the word) technology really died out hundreds of years ago - when we proved

      • by Sabriel (134364)

        The only consistent, ongoing factor in automation is that it does more, faster, more reliably, cheaper at the expense of staff who did less, slower and less reliably but cost more. Sure, people need jobs - but nobody but the government is obligated to create them.

        "Your poverty isn't my problem" is usually where it all goes to hell, yes. Right up until the poor collectively discover that they can still throw rocks.

  • I'm thinking somewhere between "Altered Beast" and "Contra" - after playing through the subway tunnels, suddenly you arrive at the boss, a towering computer which hurls engineers at you.
  • "I've just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit. It's going to go 100% failure in 72 hours."
    vs
    "From its omniscient view it can see chances to combine work and share resources that no human could."

    The fiction in the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" is maybe to believe that the human brain could ever compete with a computer.

  • Nicest subway system I've been on anyplace, bar none. A continuous amazement, built at scale. Many thoughtful design tips (f.e. your subway card can be used to pay at the nearby 7-11 (yes, a real 7-11), and you don't get held up at the turnstile when your balance is too low to get out ('cause you have an on-card deposit)).

    If they're using this Expert System to help make it rock so hard, good on 'em. The USA could take a NUMBER of pointers from this thing.

There's a whole WORLD in a mud puddle! -- Doug Clifford

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