Saturday, November 7, 2009

The House (Computer) Always Wins

Bill Seebek was playing a $4 slot machine for a half hour in a Florida casino, when the sirens of you-just-won-a-shiteload-of-money sounded. He had won $166,666,666.65. He thought. The casino roped off the machine and after inspecting the "machine" (evil computer), they ruled that it malfunctioned. The max on that machine should have only been $99,000. Instead, Bill Seebek got nothing because that is the payout for a malfunction.

It always annoys me when I hear someone blaming "the system" instead of the organization that deployed that system. It's like when you're on the phone with your bank or credit card company and they say:

"The system is down now...Sorry...Can't get your information to help you right now"
"The system is so slow"
"I can't get that information because the system doesn't track that"It's as if the computer is culpable for doing something wrong.

Every day we are let down by the computers that surround our lives. Just imagine that it wasn't the bad UI at the self-service checkout, but losing a 9 figure prize instead. As more data of our lives goes online, what "malfunctions" will cause us to have a Seebek situation?

Here is the news story of the incident:

Direct link to video:

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