Man against Machine – Will the Computer Defeat Man?

A Lesson from a Parking Lot Attendant

A security company in the field of control systems at the entrance to sites won a large project to introduce automation for a group of parking lots. The goal of the automation and control system is, of course, to reduce costs and minimize the need for human workers. The company attempted to recruit a project manager, but the designated candidate gave up the position. When they attempted to understand why, he suggested to them that they talk to his father.

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The Father
The conversation with the father was held in the father’s home. He told them that he had worked for forty years as an attendant at the entrance to a large parking lot and with his salary he had raised and educated seven children. He was careful to direct them all to technological education so that they could support themselves with dignity. Until now he had managed to provide higher education for five of his children.

And now, the same technology in which he had pushed his children to specialize is what had pushed him out of the job market. The parking lot where he had been employed had moved to automatic systems, he was fired from his position, and now he could not support the studies of his last two children.

He further told that he knows that the “automatic parking lot” today earns less without him. He also said that he knows with complete certainty why.

The company checked with the parking lot owner and discovered that indeed the parking lot profits had plummeted by 20%. The owner did not have a precise explanation why.

The Secret

Immediately the company manager returned to the father, who promised to tell the secret of the reason, as long as the company would see that he could earn a living so that he could finance the studies of his last two children. After he was promised a livelihood, he told the manager the secret.

“I was the parking lot attendant from the day it was established. From a supply of thousands of parking lot places almost three-quarters were rented to subscribers. I would say hello to them in the morning when they came in and say good-bye to them in the evening when they left. I would pat their hand or wave at them. Close relations were created with them, and they would update me about their absences or vacations and I would note these down in my small notebook. When the available parking spaces would fill up, I would direct vehicles to the parking spaces of these ‘absent’ subscribers, since I knew they would not come, and thus almost every day I would boost the occupancy by about 20%! These funds did not go to me, God forbid, but to the parking lot. You know … the automatic gates of today … they do not create close relations and do not know about vacations. And now … that you know … perhaps you can program a little bit of humanity … perhaps smiling faces … for that new pole at the entrance …”

This story leaves much food for thought. Is it possible that a sophisticated computer does not always truly know to take the place of a small notebook …?

I would be happy to hear your opinion.

Link to the original story of Shuka DiNor:

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