Chasing Down the Machines

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As we become more automated and deal less and less with a human being I have to wonder how much time we will spend trying to correct errors that the machines make.  Earlier this week I went to buy a Miami Metro Rail pass, $150 for the month.  The kiosk wouldn't accept my debit card (or anyone else) but unknown to me it charged my account.  I tried later that day, same result, another $150 charge to my checking account.  I'm told since its a kiosk nothing can be done and I must dispute the charge with my bank.  So in a very busy day yesterday I'm forced to take out nearly an hour of my time trying to resolve the dispute with my bank.  In the meantime I'm out $300.


The city of Miami runs a jitney train through the downtown area.  Its free and very convenient.  When the system was introduced years ago it was herald as a totally computerized system requiring no operator.  However, on almost a daily basis the system goes haywire and people are stuck in the train between stations.  The county then needs to dispatch a train operator out to the disabled train to manually operate it.  As a result there a massive delays almost everyday.  People fuming as they will be late for an appointment or for work.


It seems as though as we get more automated I spend more of my time dealing with technology snafus.  I have to wonder if the time we are saving is being spent on the back end.  I now longer can simply pump gas at the gas station using my debit or credit card because the information is lifted from the pump after I leave.  No less than five times in the past year my credit or debit card has been compromised.  So now I have to go into the little store and use cash.  So I'm back to the way I bought gas in 1980.  Go inside the station and ask for $20 on pump 2.  I'm back to getting cash and the grocery store with a purchase and then using it to buy my Metrocard. 


As the machines take over I believe we will live an almost continuous crisis as the machines foul up one thing or another. 




Tubularsock Added Jan 19, 2018 - 11:01am
George, excellent point. Tubularsock has given up with the world of  machine help and just uses cash. Easier in truth. Once you get back in the habit it seem pretty simple.
You can't even repair your own car anymore in so many areas because of computer chips and fancy "help" features. So even the littlest issues usually cost you time and money.
Tubularsock lives a pretty simple life and uses a bike most of the time for transportation. Way easier to park.
And Tubularsock does ALL his bank transactions "live", no ATM's.
It takes a bit more planning on the front side but NO delay on the back side. Cash still is king.
Tubularsock created a business, years ago, around "fixing" things based on the concept that the world of things is constantly falling apart. NEVER had a slow year!
That tells you something. You are right on target.
It is not that the machines will take over but they will all just stop working and then they HAVE taken over!
Dave Volek Added Jan 19, 2018 - 11:20am
In my town, fiber optic lines have been cut because of construction several times in the past decade. That is when all stores say: "We are only taking cash today."
Dino Manalis Added Jan 19, 2018 - 11:39am
Automation isn't perfect, be careful!
Katharine Otto Added Jan 19, 2018 - 12:09pm
I'm with Tubularsock.  I use cash, too, partly because it is untrackable.  I don't even have an ATM card since my last one was stolen and used.  Debit card?  Haha.  It only makes it harder for me to keep track of what I have and spend. 
I still write old-fashioned checks for power and phone bills, and mail them.  No electronic money transfers for me, because it's too easy to hack into accounts, not to mention the possibility of machine snafus and lack of records to prove I really did have that million dollars in my account (I wish).
Cash is the way to go, but your mechanized kiosk could still take your money without giving you a transit card.  That's why real human beings will never go out of style.
Tubularsock Added Jan 19, 2018 - 12:16pm
Katharine, Tubularsock made friends with a "mechanized kiosk" once and it spit out money that Tubularsock never asked for. What to do, what to do ...
A. Jones Added Jan 19, 2018 - 3:28pm
It's not "the machines", per se, Romey. It's government ownership and maintenance of the machines. I've never had a problem with electronic debiting when purchasing groceries from my local private supermarket, or smart-devices from the local Apple retail store. 
As the machines take over I believe we will live an almost continuous crisis as the machines foul up one thing or another. 
And yet, Romey, here you are, posting online by means of a machine.
Seems a bit hypocritical.
opher goodwin Added Jan 19, 2018 - 6:28pm
George - perhaps we'll get back all the way to bartering goods?
Leroy Added Jan 19, 2018 - 8:35pm
"George - perhaps we'll get back all the way to bartering goods?"
More than likely, we will become a cashless society.  It's already happening in some countries.
Jeff Jackson Added Jan 20, 2018 - 12:29am
George, check me in for cash. The automated things go well, until they don't go well, and then the time you saved disappears into hours trying to resolve what a machine screwed up. Machines are only as good as the people who make them. Take for example, General Motors, who invested millions in robots in the 1980s only to realize that when they tried to convert to new models, they had millions of dollars in junk that could not be reprogrammed. And the robots could not buy cars, unlike the UAW members that they sought to screw over. Humans, as flawed as they may be, are much more flexible than machines. Machines will not buy machines, only people buy machines. Also, machines record transactions, who, where, what and how much. I do not like having people I do not know tracing my location and spending habits. If you want to have some fun, make up a name, spend some traceable transactions, and then see who advertises to that made-up name.
Mircea Negres Added Jan 20, 2018 - 3:29am
George, as I understand it, there are problems at American self-checkout stores, where customers double-scan something then can't get a refund because there's no staff around. South African banks are increasingly cutting back on staff and computerising their systems. As a result, my bank alone has laid off around 500 cashiers, waiting time to see a consultant to solve a problem has gone up to an hour or more, and customers now do their banking at the ATM, on the internet or cell phone (which means are not secure because of "card skimmers" and other security risks) causing more delays. Computers work on the principle of "garbage in, garbage out". Because they have no free will or intelligence, they do exactly what people tell them to do. Thus, if the programming and command inputs are wrong, the result won't be right. I've always liked cash because it's universal, there's generally no paperwork and I can't be stalked by banks, stores, marketing firms and identity thieves. Unfortunately, the masses of people who blithely enable the banks to move towards cashless systems make it increasingly difficult to live in a human and humane society. Speaking of cash, gotta go to the ATM to draw my peanuts and buy cigarettes for the week. The Pakistani-owned shop I frequent does not have card facilities, but there's always somebody behind the counter to serve customers...   
opher goodwin Added Jan 20, 2018 - 4:55am
Leroy - a cashless society is a bit different to bartering though isn't it?
The Burghal Hidage Added Jan 20, 2018 - 6:53am
Foolish Human! Machines do not make mistakes...mistakes....machinesnotdomake....mistakeMistakemistakebzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Jeffry Gilbert Added Jan 20, 2018 - 9:35am
As the machines take over I believe we will live an almost continuous crisis as the machines foul up one thing or another. 
Just another way for the owners to socialize costs in the pursuit of greater profit. 
George N Romey Added Jan 20, 2018 - 10:39am
The issue is increasingly the human element is being taken out of the equation. A few months back I had an issue in which the wrong Uber driver picked me up at the airport. It wasn’t until the end of the ride that I was told he was an “Uber X” car which meant more $$$$.
No number to call for Uber. Bank won’t do anything because the “service” was delivered. So I’m out an additional $20. It’s why I won’t use Uber anymore and if available I use public transportation even if it takes much longer.
I constantly see in Finance companies make “data” driven decisions only. One’s years of experience and business acumen are not valued because the computer know all.  Then the mistakes occur and companies spend more money on supposedly better technology.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 20, 2018 - 11:03am
The world cannot go completely cashless because of all those people who can't afford bank accounts.  We may have to revert to silver and precious metals coins for those people.  This could have the effect of grounding the money supply.  An advantage of silver is it won't matter which country mints it, and it will be spendable anywhere.
Another problem with machines is that the chain is only as strong as the weakest link.  Think digital technology. 
You're right that there's no accountability with human-deprived enterprises.  As long as people are willing to put up with this, they deserve to be short-changed.
Neil Lock Added Jan 20, 2018 - 3:21pm
No-one on this thread has brought up the biggest problem with machine transactions. That is, that they have an information feed out of the back end. And some have privileged access to that feed. They can watch what you do, but you can't see what they do.
Leroy Added Jan 20, 2018 - 3:49pm
"The world cannot go completely cashless because of all those people who can't afford bank accounts."
There used to be a minimum charge to use your credit or debit card.  That is no longer true in most places.  You can use a credit card to buy a bag of Cheetos.  I suspect that if you don't have a bank account, one will be given to you.  All that money under your mattress will become illegal.
Leroy Added Jan 20, 2018 - 4:07pm
I find dealing with machines easier than humans.  I went for an eye exam last year.  No doctor will file the claim for my insurance company.  The policy is you can go anywhere an be reimbursed up to $75.  So I file my claim.  I get reimbursed nothing.  They said that it went towards my deductible.  I show them the policy.  "Oh. You submitted the wrong codes."  So I ask for the correct codes.  "Sorry, we can't give you that information."  So, I had to go back and ask the doctor to guess at other codes and filed again.  No reimbursement.  All goes towards the deductible, but less this time, since they have negotiated rates which I don't have access to.  Finally, I go over their heads.  No codes are necessary.  Three days later I have my money.  Most people would have given up.  I think that is the plan.  The point is, dealing with humans is no easier than dealing with machines.
Leroy Added Jan 20, 2018 - 4:11pm
"Leroy - a cashless society is a bit different to bartering though isn't it?"
They will go hand in hand.  When the government decrees no cash, you will have to use your credit or debit card.  Outside of that, you can barter goods on the black market.  I'm sure the government will decree everything to be RFID'ed to prevent bartering or to at least get its fair cut.
Bill H. Added Jan 20, 2018 - 5:33pm
Our machines are not necessarily being produced or programmed to perform tasks efficiently. They are mostly designed to minimize or eliminate human labor. If the goal was to serve the customer in the most friendly and efficient manner, then we probably wouldn't have to deal with all of the inefficiencies and glitches. When they are designed strictly to eliminate a human and/or extract as much personal private data as possible, then humans suffer.
Some of us remember how quickly transactions could be handled back in the day of the mechanical cash register.
Jeff Michka Added Jan 20, 2018 - 7:43pm
Geo Romey contends: I suspect that if you don't have a bank account, one will be given to you.  All that money under your mattress will become illegal. - Uh huh, right.  Predicated on what?  So much for "You're so Right, Geo."  Looks like your dopamine fix will have to come from elsewhere, Geo. Or maybe there are still Geo suckers out there on WB. 
Doug Plumb Added Jan 21, 2018 - 7:00am
The cashless society should simply scare the shit out of everyone.
Something happened to me recently. To explain I have to explain some history. This is about me, Canada, and our beloved cash confisgatory institution Canada Revenue Agency.
  Around 2007, 2008 I stopped filing. I did nothing wrong, I didn't hide anything or try to get out of anything unlawfully. I simply sent CRA a letter telling them that I was no longer going to be filing and wished to preserve my right of self rather than help pay off a phoney debt that does not exist in any lawful sense.
  The international banks that finance this money system are not part of the country and they do not have any obligation to the country or its people. There is no "joinder" between me and this debt. It is also wrong to go along with paying it or pretending its real. So I go to work and earn money, I reserve my right of self and keep my earnings -or at least that is what I expect. But my employer is obligated to tax my paycheque (not really) but they just face an audit if they don't (I've been on that side of the fence and not payed employee income tax)
  (Side Note: Commercial businesses owe the tax. They protect and maintain commerce in their own interest but commerce must pay a tax if it is to use their currency. Any commercial currency will bear a tax to protect and maintain the currency. Pirates and counterfeiters are the threat. )
  They bug me for not filing, I always respond. The non response would be an admission to their facts and their interpretation of things. Its a maxim of law that if you receive a notice and do not object, you become liable, unless the notice is fraudulent.
  CRA is not fraudulent when they try to collect personal income tax. It's voluntary and you have volunteered.
  I have not volunteered but CRA takes the money anyway. The CRA explanation for this "We are above the law", at least if my hearing has been right on the phone several times and it is. They don't put it in writing.
  They don't like me. They recently sent a request for payment stating that I must pay them 29 K to end my tenure as a "Crown Agent" (Crown agents must pay income tax and you agree to become one every year when you sign your income tax return in Canada). I say no, they say "We are above the law" again then change the notice to 39 K after my correspondence with them in which I just say they are a bunch of criminals. It goes from 27 K to 39 K in a month.
  They shut down my bank account. I had put lawful restrictions on CRA beeing able to do this. Prior to this 29K notice,  CRA tried shutting it down before on 11K) but the bank would not comply. My employer did so I went to CRA office personally to straighten that out once and for all.
  CRA and the bank are now working together, the CRA agent that I have interacted with actually works at the bank. Suppose that they were successful at taking my paycheque from my employer as well? I wouldn't even have any cash or ability to survive. I would have to turn myself in to them and comply with CRA's unlawful demands.
  I can survive without a bank account for now because I can cash my cheques. I can survive and bring them a law suit, which I will win. When no one has any actual cash and electronic money becomes universal, they will have a field day. I would have lost already.
  For most people, their bank accounts are no protection. You put your money into a bank and it becomes theirs. They give it back to you at their leisure and that is the reality of a public interest bearing bank account.
  They do not need a police state, they need electronic money. If you run out of it your self driving car can take you right to them automatically, before you even find out that they shut down your account. This is true even for the most dedicated comfort seeking "go along to get along" type. They will be coming for you too. They need that electronic money to do it to people who know the law.
  The law has no obligation to protect you. You are obligated to know the law in a free society. Not knowing your peril.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 21, 2018 - 7:07am
They have "Chutzpa", we have law.
Neil Lock Added Jan 21, 2018 - 5:46pm
Doug: They have "laws," we have right and wrong.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 22, 2018 - 6:25am
We own the courts. Our courts are based on Roman law, common law and Justice. No one knows how to use them. I am learning. Having a sword is not good enough, you have to practice its use.

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