It’ll come as no surprise that technology has had its issues in the past, ranging from the Galaxy Note 7 through to Facebook Chatbots developing their own language, but there are ways to avoid these problems.
In late 2016 and early 2017, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was released with an irregular battery size, which caused the batteries to overheat and explode. This happened not once but twice.
The batteries sparked two recalls, and reports suggest a minimum cost to Samsung of $5 Billion.
For you, the customer, this meant that you were unable to take your expensive device (£1029) anywhere with complete safety or security.
Whilst Samsung have long since recalled all of the devices, and admitted complete responsibility, the question still stands as to why such a large, trusted organisation released such a dangerous device to the public, without appropriate testing.
This was, after all, the biggest mobile phone manufacturing company on the planet.
From Hardware to Software….
It is not just advances in technology hardware that can cause major problems.
As a prime example, back in 2016, the Tesla Autopilot mode caused a fatality.
Joshua Brown was “driving” his Tesla in autopilot which collided with a tractor-trailer on a Florida highway.
It was the first fatality whilst driving on autopilot, but it did cause Tesla to re-think, and shortly after they announced major updates to the programming.
Elon Musk said, retrospectively, that the updates would have prevented the accident entirely.
More recently, in 2017, Facebook researchers found that two of their chatbot’s named “Alice” and “Bob” had created their own language and were having conversations between themselves.
Although the conversations looked like a string of typos which made no sense to anyone, Facebook shut both the bots down after their conversations were discovered..
Also in 2017, came a crime-fighting robot named Knightscope K5. The design was straight out of Dr. Who, it was designed with an array of cameras to discourage any wrongdoers.
Unsurprisingly, there was a limited number of people who were happy sharing their public space with a five foot, 300 – pound robot.
But that wasn’t the biggest problem developers had to face.
The robot broke Isaac Asimov’s first law of robotics “No Robot May Injure A Human”, when K5 ran over a toddler! Now even if these laws are not “real”, they are probably a good starting point for us.
Lack of Control on Your Phone?
Tracking back a little further, to 2013, when Facebook tried to become the home screen for your mobile phone.
Within less than a month of the release, the two year subscription plan dropped from $99 to $0.99 as there was so little uptake on the product, and the reviews were poor.
What happens when you have no control over what appears on your phone’s home screen? It becomes a mess!
A review from the business insider said:
“It was fine for a Facebook addict, but it seems to run through a lot of data and battery. Uninstalled.”
The cost of this failure was significant, and there was a subsequent re-organisation in the company.
The team of engineers originally assigned to work on Facebook Home, were disbanded.
What Can You Learn from these Tech Behemoths?
Throughout this article, I’ve looked at just a handful of failures across the technology sector from the last few years.
One clear message seems to stand out, ensure anything that you invest in is thoroughly tested to avoid as many teething problems as possible.
Especially if this product is customer or supplier facing!
Looking carefully at the technology on offer is a great start, check out any news about the product or organisation that you are planning on working with.
Ideally, arrange to speak with current users, especially when it comes to technology used in the wider business. First-hand experience will be invaluable to your research and understanding.
This becomes especially important if you and your organisation are early adopters.
At the end of the day, there not many businesses that can afford to fail in such a significant and public way, and continue trading.
For most of us, these levels of bad press or failure are just not an option.