The problem with technology? Humans

Two stories in the news this week reveal anew a problem in our technological age: humans.

We spend a lot of time worrying about the impact of artificial intelligence and our robot overlords and with good reason. Humans haven’t been entirely wiped out of the process that makes them work.

Here are two examples:

On Election Day, the wrong candidates were winning in early returns in Roseville and Maplewood. A candidate for council in Maplewood who’s been arrested five times was steamrolling a long-time community advocate, for example, tipping off people that something was up.

Something was, Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky told the Pioneer Press. Humans.

“I wouldn’t even begin to make an excuse. Software is run by people. Ultimately, it’s a person problem, and we’ll deal with that, and make sure we do better proofing before election day,” said Mansky, who plans to ask the Secretary of State’s office to help set up more trial runs.

“We’d like to do earlier testing,” Mansky said. “We’re not quite sure if the state will make their website available to us. We’d like to test this uploading process well before election day. Right now their site is open for testing fairly close to the election. It would be helpful to us if we had a wider window of time.”

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported, the cause of an outage in 911 in Minnesota last week has been determined. Take a guess.

According to the agency, CenturyLink, Minnesota’s 911 service provider, said human error by a third-party vendor caused the outage.

CenturyLink says an employee of West Safety Services made a mistake while making a network configuration change. The error prevented 911 calls from being accepted in the three states.