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25 Jun 2018

Ibrahim Diallo: The man who got fired by a machine

The man who got fired by a machine

Machines are not only just taking our jobs, but it seems like they've started sacking people too.

Ibrahim Diallo, a software developer from California, has recently, in a blog post, revealed how a machine sacked him, and even his human bosses couldn't do a thing to stop it.

Diallo's tale, however, isn't one about machines taking over, but a cautionary tale against over-automation.

In context

The man who got fired by a machine

The start

One fine day, Diallo's work keycard stopped working

Diallo, a Guinea-born programmer, had been working for a company in Los Angeles.

Around eight months into his three-year-long contract with the company, Diallo's keycard which permitted him entry to work, stopped working.

And, then began a series of bizarre events, which ended with the rather popular and hardworking programmer being escorted out of the site of his work by security guards.

Repeated roadblocks

Following the keycard, Diallo started getting kicked from computer accounts

Assuming that the card malfunctioned, Diallo informed his manager who promised to order a new one.

Meanwhile, Diallo continued to work, and entered the workspace using temporary passes or with the help of security.

But, things kept going downhill for Diallo, who started getting locked out of the multiple computer accounts he used for work.

No one could explain what was going on.

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Diallo's director assured him that everything would be fine

Human intervention

Diallo's director assured him that everything would be fine

Subsequently, Diallo's manager got a message that he had been terminated from the company and ultimately the issue was referred to the director of the company.

Diallo wrote that the company director laughed, picked up the phone, ordered the support team to sort the issue out, and gave Diallo the green light to come to work the next day.

Termination

How Diallo got disgracefully terminated from his work

When Diallo arrived at work the next day, he entered using a temporary pass.

By now, he had been locked out of every work account.

The same day, after lunch, Diallo was escorted out of the building by two security guards, who said that they had received a threatening email instructing them to do the same.

Diallo's director was furious, but to no avail.

What led to Diallo getting sacked

Negligence

What led to Diallo getting sacked

In the three weeks which followed, Diallo was sent a copy of emails pertaining to his case.

Unable to come to work, he lost out on three weeks of pay before the issue came to light.

It was found that Diallo's previous manager, who had been sacked during a transition, had not renewed Diallo's contract in the new system.

Then, well...the machines took over!

Man vs machine

How the system sacked Ibrahim Diallo, as humans watched helpless

Owing to automation in the company, once the termination order for an employee is triggered, the system takes over and issues all the necessary orders at different levels to complete the termination process.

For instance, after disabling a keycard, the system automatically informs security.

Once this process got set into motion owing to negligence on part of Diallo's previous manager, human intervention became fruitless.

The system was "out for blood"

"The system was out for blood and I was its very first victim," wrote Diallo in his post. The blog post has now become viral, especially within the tech community, over its dystopian implications and similarity to TV show Black Mirror.

So, what ultimately happened to Diallo?

Diallo

So, what ultimately happened to Diallo?

The process took some weeks to complete, and owing to the irreversibility of the process and the sheer powerlessness of Diallo's human bosses, he was ultimately recalled to the company as a new employee.

However, following Diallo's rather public, and seemingly disgraceful dismissal at the hands of the machine, his co-workers became distant, and Diallo has now moved to another job.

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