Fired by an algorithm, and no one can figure out why

Ibrahim Diallo was eight months into a three year contract with a big company when its systems abruptly decided that he was fired: first it told his recruiter that he'd been let go, then it stopped accepting his pass for the parking and the turnstyles, then his logins stopped working, and at each turn, his supervisor, and that person's boss, and the HR people, were at a loss to explain or reverse the steady, automated disappearance of Ibrahim from the company.

Eventually, they had to send him home for three weeks while the top bosses exchanged volley after volley of email with the mystified IT staff until they got to the bottom of things: Ibrahim's direct manager had been laid off and sent to work from home during a transitional period. His ex-boss basically stopped doing anything, including ticking the box that said that Ibrahim's contract was still in force, and this missed step triggered the automated, irreversible, algorithmic termination process, which relentlessly discontinued all of Ibrahim's company access -- a fully automated process that ensured that ex-employees weren't accidentally left with ongoing access to sensitive systems and data.

The explanation is anodyne, but the process was absolutely chilling, something like "Remember Me", the Star Trek:TNG episode where the whole world disappears one drib at a time, leaving Dr Crusher in a kind of astro-Satrean wasteland (it's also got more than a passing similarity to Harlan Ellison's story Shatterday).

The next day, I had been locked out off every single system except my Linux machine. Even the service we used to log our hours to get paid had been deactivated. I spent the first half of the day documenting my work.

After lunch, two people appeared at my desk. One was a familiar long face that seemed to avoid making direct eye contact. It was Jose and his fellow security guard. He cordially informed me that he was to escort me out of the building.

The director was furious. They had received a very threatening email to escort me out of the building and were just doing their job.

"Who the hell is sending those emails!?"

I was fired. There was nothing my manager could do about it. There was nothing the director could do about it. They stood powerless as I packed my stuff and left the building.

The Machine Fired Me [Ibrahim Diallo/Idiallo]

(via Four Short Links)

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