The Question is ‘Who Wrote the Code?’

We didn’t receive the airline tickets we purchased last week. After inquiring for the second or third time, we’re told to look in our Spam folder. The airline blames the email provider, who then turns around and blames the error on an algorithm, as if the algorithm wrote itself.

The person who just got stopped by TSA prior to boarding their airplane just happens to get stopped every time they fly and TSA blames it on an algorithm in the computer system, as if the algorithm wrote itself.

As artificial intelligence (AI) gets better at adapting to the hardware and software being used to develop it, we’ll hear over and over that the outcome isn’t anyone’s responsibility. Why? Because the algorithm wrote the code.

Let’s all just understand that hardware and software do not write code. People do!

We have policies and procedures (algorithms) in place where we work, passed down from person to person. Decision-making approaches that help us either make good decisions or negative ones. What they have in common is that they’re rarely inspected or examined. Once the code (the policies and procedures) are written and given a cursory review, they’re put into place for immediate enforcement.

Any search engine’s search results and news are the work of human beings. Businesses and consumers thrive or suffer because of active choices made by programmers and the people they work for. They all have conflicting goals, but the lack of transparency leads to hiding behind the algorithm.

The priority of any Social Media Platform and the news it serves up is intentional and is the work of a team of people. The defense that the results are just a product of the algorithm is nothing more than a default, rather than simply taking ownership and being accountable . Why? Because there’s more than one possible algorithm and more than one set of choices that can be made by those writing the algorithm.

When something goes wrong, the question is what agenda or priority did the person writing the algorithm have and who do they answer to?

The culture of our politics, our standards, and our awareness of what’s happening around us is being aggressively rewired by what we see and what we hear, and what we see and hear comes via an algorithm that is written by people. Just because it makes the shareholders happy in the short run doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for those affected in the long run.

Truth Be Told, in the final analysis, all of this is a product of Leadership, which either values and owns transparency and accountability or chooses not to!

Published by The Leadership Consortium

Maxie Carpenter was formerly Vice President of HR & Talent Development for Wal-Mart Stores. After a 27-year career, he began to pursue a number of other interests, which included alternative education, nonprofits, consulting, writing and public speaking.

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