Is It So Difficult To Check When A Prisoner Should Be Released?

from the seems-pretty-straightforward dept

One of the ongoing worries about people relying more and more on computers is that, in doing so, they will sometimes let the computer's judgment replace their own common sense. The computer is right so often, that people stop checking to make sure it's right. John submitted this story noting that a "computer glitch" let certain prisoners out early from state prisons in Michigan. The article is a bit poorly written, so it's not clear what the actual "glitch" was -- but what's more concerning is why no one is double-checking these things. It seems that people are just assuming that the computer must always be right. How hard would it be for someone to take what the computer says and match it up with a file on the prisoner's release date? As for the fact that the computer also let a few prisoners out late, did the prisoners in question complain that their release date had come and gone?
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  1. identicon
    Mousky, 24 Oct 2005 @ 4:33am

    Customer Service

    We have become so accustomed to hearing "computers are always right", that no one double-checks the information in the computer system.

    I work for a municipal government. A fellow co-worker spent roughly 18 months converting paper zoning maps into digital format that were geo-referenced (meaning all the lines or segments on the map had a geographic co-ordinate assigned to them). That project was completed about 16 months ago. At work, we use two applications to access data about a property. There are plenty of errors in the system. No one has ever bothered to import the data from the digital mapping into these systems, despite the fact that one of the reasons we went to digital mapping was the ability to easily update data in other databases.

    A developer or property owner would come in to get their building permit and be told that there are conditions that must be satisfied prior to issuance of the permit - because the computer database has not been updated. They come see me, and I check the PAPER map and note that the conditions have been satisfied. I then have to copy the map, get a copy of the by-law that removed the conditions and talk to the customer service rep. While management talks about improving customer service, they have paid lip-service to our comments about incorrect data in the system.

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