Tuesday, April 16, 2024

AI and a confused elevator

A colleague recently received a letter from the real estate agent, stating that several people reported a malfunction of the new elevator. The reason as it turned out after an in depth-analysis: the doors were blocked by people moving into the building while hauling furniture. This special malfunction detection was claimed to be part of the new elevator systems that is based on artificial intelligence.
The agent kindly asked the residents to NOT block the doors anymore as it confuses the elevator and it is likely for the elevator to stop working again. 

I was thinking..."really"?

 I mean...If I hear about AI in elevators, then the first thought that crosses my mind is smart traffic management [1]. For example, in our office building, at around noon, most of the employees go for lunch and call the elevators. An opportunity to do employees a great favor is to move back to the floor where people press the button right after having delivered the previous set of people. Or, if several elevators exist, make sure the elevators move to different positions in the building so people never have to wait too long to get one. 

But, I had never expected an elevator to get irritated and distracted for several days for the case where someone temporarily blocks the doors. It is surprising to me that such elevator has no built in facility to automatically reset itself after a while. It's weird that a common use-case like blocking doors temporarily wasn't even in the technical reference book and required a technician to come twice as he/she could not resolve the problem the first time.

A few weeks later, I visited my friend in his new appartment and I wanted to also see that  mystic elevator. D'oh! Another brand new elevator that does not allow to undo an incorrect choice made while clicking the wrong button. But, it contains an integrated iPad showing today's latest news.
Pardon me? Who needs that in a 4 floor building?

Often, I hear or read about software components where marketing claims they are using AI, whereas in reality the most obvious use-cases were not even considered like that undo button [2] which I'll probably miss in elevators till the end of my days.


[1] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/elevators-artificial-intelligence-ascending-towards-safety-guillemi/

[2] https://simply-the-test.blogspot.com/2018/05/no-undo-in-elevator.html