BOFH: Generating a report the Director can show the Board – THIS is what AI was made for
Spelling mistakes? Poor understanding of grammar? Yes, it looks like your work
Episode 3 "Yes, but what does it mean?" the Director asks, looking at the pages in his hand blankly.
"It's a technical report on our cloud deployment," I reply.
"Yes, I see that, but what does it MEAN?" he repeats.
"It simply outlines the plusses and minuses of having our apps and data in the cloud. It also discusses current trends in decentralized and recentralized data and applications, the inherent dangers in deploying – or not deploying – data to the cloud and then makes some assumptions about where apps and data will end up in the future."
"Yes, I READ ALL OF THAT," the Director lies testily, "but what I'm after is the main points – an executive overview."
"But it's a technical briefing document. It's not trying to convince you one way or the other about the technology, it's just discussing the various merits."
"I asked you to provide a report on the security of our stuff in the cloud."
"And I did that report," I lie.
"This isn't a report, this is just a generic overview of all systems-in-the-cloud."
"...of which our Company's systems are a small part," I counter.
"Yes, but I want something specific to our Company."
"You believe that our Company has a need for some special form of cloud-based security?"
"No, but I want to know our systems are safe!"
"Would it help if I scattered the Company's name in random locations in the document?" I ask, thinking I'll need to add a couple of new response parameters to my ChatGPT session...
Arse Covering 101 highlights the benefits of asking questions as a way of leaving the sort of paper trail that can be pointed at during your gross negligence HR process. The Director doesn't want an actual ANSWER to his question as much as he wants to be able to prove – at a later date – that he did ask it. Once asked, the hot potato of responsibility is then passed into the hands of someone else, leaving the Director's digits as cool as proverbial cucumbers. Lazy, work-shy cucumbers. And so while the Director may have the IQ of a remedial houseplant, he does have a high-performing self-preservation system.
"I just need to know we're safe," he repeats.
"Probably's not good enough."
"Probably's as good as you're going to get."
"It doesn't say that in your report."
"That's because the report was generated by AI."
"You used an AI to do the report?"
"Of course I did – you could tell that just from the generalizations."
"And you think that's appropriate?"
"I think it's more appropriate use of AI than the PFY asking it the best way to eradicate office vermin. Large office vermin. Vermin with their own offices."
"It seems that if I don't use the word vermin it's not allowed to answer my questions," the PFY explains. "You can also ask it about how much powdered glass you should AVOID eating in your sugar before it starts seriously harming you."
"It's all about the questions you ask," I add.
"Why the hell are you using AI for that in the first place?"
"We have a lot of vermin in the building," I reply.
- BOFH and the case of the Zoom call that never was
- BOFH: It's 4ft tall, heavyset, has optional fax. No they didn't take the toner!
- BOFH and the office security access upgrade
- BOFH: Come back to the office. Your hotdesk is nice and warm
"That like sugar in their coffee," the PFY says.
"Why are rats drinking coffee?"
We wait a few seconds for the Director's 2-bit processor to catch up.
"So anyway, back to this AI thing. I could ask it about comparative security and ask it to compare our company with data security in the 1980s or 1990s. That would give you a pretty glowing report."
"Yes, but we need to be SAFE."
"No report's going to make us safe and EVERY report will say we're safe until some hitherto unknown vulnerability is exploited – which is pretty much 100 percent certain to happen at some time in the future."
"So we're not safe from ransomware?"
"What about data loss?"
"We don't know where the data is stored, how it's stored, if it's backed up or if it's slowly being modified by some rogue agent."
"I can't go to the board with a document saying we're exposed."
"Sure you can. All I do is specify that the AI has to create a document longer than the reader's attention span."
"The document you gave me was only two pages long!"
"Yes, the AI refused to be limited to one paragraph."
"WHA... No, it doesn't matter. How long will it take to get a new report?"
"Well, if I change some of the criteria, extend it to 10 pages and ask the AI to use complex terms to weed out the more diligent reader... about two minutes."
Five minutes later the Director wants a few changes to the nuance and style of the report so that he can attach it to his Board papers so that it looks like he wrote it.
"So you want liberal spelling mistakes, poor use of punctuation and the report to wander off on some meaningless tangent for several paragraphs."
"Just make it look good. And hurry."
Ten minutes later the Boss has printed off 10 copies and is dashing upstairs to the Board meeting.
"Part of me feels bad about asking the AI to add a paragraph in the style of someone wanting to publicly admit to a sex addiction."
"He's going to a Board meeting," the PFY says. "They'll probably give him a promotion."
"True. What's next on the agenda?"
"Item 2. Asking the AI how Chairs have expired in non-suspicious ways."
"Type it in!"