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"...Why have the genuine ‘Jeez Louise! Freak out everybody!’ option slap-bang next to one the harmless ‘Test the brown alert’ option?..."

Dear NWV:

Mahalo for your input because I think that 'smart' is dangerous! Let me explain.

I happened to be listening to the news when the report came in with 'more information' to follow. The first full report I read was on the BBC website only learning later about the '38 minutes' and still later that the message went out twice.

The first thing that came to my mind was "Fail Safe", a cold war thriller in which a fully nuclear-loaded bomber wing is scrambled for a drill, but a technical glitch instructs the captain to execute the fail-safe protocol and bomb Moscow.

As noted and (sticking to the relevant), this would have been a market disaster. In a nutshell, 'index funds' are so over promoted and so over-invested that I believe a Carte Blanche sell instruction, whether or not it came from a person, would have triggered algorithms to unwind which in turn would have triggered further unwinds trigging other automated algorithms stopping at the first trading halt in less than a minute. Keep in mind that many assets are trading futures globally, most likely without a person at a trading desk (during their non-trading hours).

We've seen that happen for no reason. Imagine if there was a reason. It would have taken days to "rewind".

There's a far, far, far more important point for Fools to discuss: Current technology is just so overrated it has become dangerous. In fact, I'm calling out AI as it is now as over-hyped bullship. One example: when I retired in 2013 I let my auto lease expire and didn't bother with another car until just recently. What I did notice as a passenger, was that people blindly follow their smart device's navigation instruction even when it takes the driver all over creation to just go a few miles in their own neighbourhood! And no one even notices. I've been dumbfounded laughing a bunch of times when there was an easier route which the driver should have known.

I'm wondering if the warning wasn't a 'fat fingers event'. Did the operator of that warning system become so trusting of technology both at work and in personal life so that even if, even if, that person actually noticed something was wrong, saw something was wrong, realized something was wrong, the reflex was to trust the machine and 'send' anyway, twice!

Apple may have been the first to notice this although not admit it in its study of kids becoming addicted to smart devices. May it be that kids are not becoming simply addicted, but inadvertently being trained to trust their devices above their own better judgement? Trust statistically disseminated top line media information over the obvious? Be nudged into believing what they like and dislike?

Now let me emphatically say that I don't think it's some kind of devious big corporate conspiracy. What am I saying is that society is surrendering its ability to think for itself in lieu of what is essentially metadata peer pressure. Perhaps even inadvertent hypnosis?

It seems that everything is advertised as smart, or being advertised along with a staged scene involving smart devices for app gratification. The smart device has become ubiquitous in every aspect of everyday life! We're hammered from every corner of our lives with 'smart' or 'digital' or 'AI' or 'driverless' or 'digital currency' hocus pocus.

Why was the Hawaiian system's interface so poorly designed? I think because of a mad rush to automate everything. But is it really smart to connect everything and then let a dumb statistic crunching machine make a decision which in large enough numbers significantly affects the next decision for some other smart device and some other person? Are we as a technological society taking ourselves down the right path or are we blindly leading ourselves down the wrong path. In other words, is a smart tail wagging a dumb dog?

Well, I can go on. It's something that as, the very least, investors need to be aware of instead of acting like, well, like lemmings.

However, there are pockets digital free entertainment. For example, I do find a particular long-running zombie apocalypse TV series as incredibly refreshing. There are no smart devices. At best they use hand-held short range radios. So these survivors must actually confront and solve their problems on their own; 45 minutes of TV salvation!

I'm confident that a misplaced message sent by accident will not trigger a zombie apocalypse. However, I don't feel the same about a misplaced message accidentally triggering a nuclear war or at least a market debacle.

Your hands free Fool,
FM
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