Technology: Unpredictable, Unreliable and Unforgiving

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- We've had a number of examples of technology mishaps that have wreaked havoc on investors, from network breakdowns to seemingly rogue trading algorithms -- the latest being from Knight Capital (KCG).

That "glitch" entered an erroneous trade last week that put the firm's survival in jeopardy by costing it more than $400 million on the balance sheet. It also forced the company into accepting "partners" under the worst of desperate situations.

Most know me as just shy of a total luddite who, for the record, made a very handsome living early in my career selling executives on the benefits of voice, video and data technology. However, I have come to see the downside of technology's transition from tool to master.

Consider the advancing psychology profession's acceptance of "Internet addiction." Even the current president of the U.S. admitted early on to his "CrackBerry" (BlackBerry) addiction. As an aside, consider the company value devastation that Research in Motion ( RIMM) has experienced with its BlackBerry platform and network crashes over the past year.

We are becoming so reliant on being connected all the time, in every way possible, that people have two and three communication devices that they're constantly checking, especially if they don't ring or vibrate within fifteen minutes.

There is no relief in sight to being constantly connected to work and social media sites, and anticipating the next buzz for attention.

Technology has turned into the greatest ego-booster, prompting us to announce we have the latest and greatest upgrade that made obsolete the last product in four months time. We have become obsessed with the number of apps we have, many of which we rarely, if ever, use.

From the beginnings of our technological advances in manufacturing, we have embraced the replacement of human beings with automation. While machines may certainly appear cheaper in terms of benefits and they don't take sick days, clearly the machines have carried over their human creators' fallibility amid fatigue and what I'll call "oops factor." After all, it seems every time a machine fails, it's explained away as "operator error," "programming error" or "a glitch." Translation: "Oops!"

Consider today's cyber security and power grid demands (think India's recent blackouts and America's own rolling blackouts and brownouts during inclement weather), and you'll quickly appreciate the risk pressure points that technology puts on corporations and governments alike.

My most immediate and painful professional experience occurred a few weeks ago. Our company computer crashed and, aside from being practically "closed for business" for days, there was a loss of about 20% of the data. Yes, we were humbled to review our data back-up protocols -- lesson learned. Still, when I considered how little we use paper files, which are available regardless of power, I was painfully reminded of our dependence on computers.

While today's investor trading can be reduced to -- or perhaps raised to -- nanosecond bursts, as we said back in my mainframe days, "GIGO" and "Nothing allows you to make a mistake faster than bad data, bad accounting and a computer."

So as we celebrate all of the benefits of technology, let us remember that nothing exceeds the experience, heart and soul or decision principles of the original human being.

Damn those machines. Long live professional insight, common sense and the indomitable human spirit.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

More from Opinion

How to Invest Like Warren Buffett

How to Invest Like Warren Buffett

3 Warren Buffett Stock Picks That Could Be Perfect for Your Retirement Portfolio

3 Warren Buffett Stock Picks That Could Be Perfect for Your Retirement Portfolio

50 Stocks That Could Be Shredded If a U.S. Trade War With China Ignites

50 Stocks That Could Be Shredded If a U.S. Trade War With China Ignites

Tuesday Turnaround in Politics: Is a Trade War on the Horizon?

Tuesday Turnaround in Politics: Is a Trade War on the Horizon?

Many Chip Stocks Look Cheap Here, as Long as the Economy Holds Up

Many Chip Stocks Look Cheap Here, as Long as the Economy Holds Up