The 3-day shut down
For the last few days I have been mulling over a dilemma, a dilemma which came to my attention via an article published on the register. Details can be found here: “When Google’s robots give your business the death sentence – who you gonna call?”
The original source of the article was published on the medium which can be found here: “Why you should not use Google Cloud”.
Artificial Intelligence vs Human Decision Making and Cloud Support
My dilemma concerns how artificial intelligence makes business decisions and how those decisions affect smaller businesses on a day by day basis. Are decisions black and white and taken without emotion or concern or should there be an element of consequential forward thinking.
The end user in question has a business model which is to monitor electrical output of wind turbines and solar panels across 8 countries 24 x 7. If too much electricity is generated it cannot be stored incurring lost revenue, if not enough electricity is generated penalties are to be paid. I understand a business of this nature works on tight margins and needs a very scalable and always available IT infrastructure.
The issue started on 28th June 2018 where the end user received a “barrage” of emails from Google saying there is some ‘potential suspicious activity’ and all their systems have been turned off.
The end users were site down, application engine, databases were all unreachable and multiple Firebases stated the end user had been downgraded and therefore exceeded limits. In short, the customers IT resources had been shut down with a notice stating "if the situation was not resolved the client account along with all data would be deleted within 3 days".
The actual message from google was “We will delete your project unless the billing owner corrects the violation by filling out the Account Verification Form within three business days. This form verifies your identity and ownership of the payment instrument. Failure to provide the requested documents may result in permanent account closure.”
Googles customer service chat wads off. There’s was no phone number to call. The end user had an email asking to fill in a form and upload a picture of the credit card and a government issued photo id of the card holder.
The form was completed with the details and within 20 minutes all the services started coming alive. The first time this happened, the client was down for a few hours. In all they lost everything for about an hour. An automated email arrived apologizing for ‘inconvenience’ caused.
The question raised by the end user was simply; what if the card holder was not available for 3 days, if that was the case millions of dollars would have been thrown down the drain and years of work lost.