You probably heard the news: Air Canada had to pay up for something an “AI” chatbot said. This story saddens me as I love flying on Air Canada. Honestly in my trips up there the flight is often part of the fun.
Basically a guy asked an Air Canada chatbot on advice on canceling due to bereavement, it gave him advice on refunds that was wrong. He followed the advice and of course when he had to cancel, he didn’t get his refund, and made a small claims complaint to the appropriate body. Air Canada argued – seriously – the chatbot is a legally distinct entity and that the guy shouldn’t have trusted the advice, but followed a link provided by the chatbot which had gotten things wrong.
Obviously, that didn’t fly, excuse the really stupid pun.
As an IT professional who’s career is “older than One Piece” let me weigh in.
I work in medical technology (indeed, it’s my plan to do this for the rest of my career). We vet everything we install or set up. We regularly review everything we set up. We have support systems to make sure everything is working. This is, of course, because you screw up anything medical and bad things happen.
Also it’s because someone that goes into medical anything is usually pretty responsible. We IT folks are in the mix everyday and know the impact of our job. We also work with – and sometimes are or were – doctors and nurses and other medical professionals who get it.
I love working in this environment. If this appeals to you, I can honestly say check out working in medicine, medical research, and education. It’s awesome.
Know what? Other people using technology can and should take the same level of responsibility.
Technology is a choice. What you use, how you implement it, how you expose people to it, all of that is a choice. You built it or paid for it or whatever, you take responsibility if it goes wrong, be it a life or someone deserving a refund.
If the product isn’t what you thought? Then those who made it owes you an apology, wad of cash, corporate dissolution, whatever. But either way someone takes responsibility, because technology is a choice.
We’ve certainly had enough of moving fast and breaking things, which really seems to just result in enshitification and more and more ways to be irresponsible.
Besides, reputation is involved, and if nothing else saying “we don’t care of our technology on a website goes wrong” is going to make people question everything else you do. I mean, if you were on an Air Canada plane after hearing about this “sorry, not our fault” approach how safe are you going to feel?
Let’s try to be responsible here.