Monday, January 15, 2018

Why Is a Human in the Loop?

I'm referring to the false nuclear missile warning in Hawaii.  Apparently someone had a choice of two buttons on a screen to click on, one "test", one "real", and chose the wrong one.  I can sympathize--I fairly often click on something which I realize a minute later is the wrong choice.

But as a bureaucrat, I see no reason for a human to have that choice.  Presumably what is supposed to happen is that the military determines a missile strike is imminent and puts out messages to the appropriate people.  So the person in Hawaii gets the military's notification and says what?  She has no way of testing the military's conclusion, all she can do is click on the real button.  So, if the human is just relaying the message, the system should be designed to automatically trigger the alert system.

The software she was looking at should show a status screen, which would show any incoming message and the fact it's been relayed on, and allow for initiating a test alert.

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