What’s in a name? Shakespeare wrote, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Sometimes, though, it can cause an unintentional – and somewhat ludicrous – stink; as a woman in New Zealand recently discovered to her chagrin.
Gay Hamilton’s email to the help desk of Telecom New Zealand was rejected by a computer system because her name was Gay and was deemed "inappropriate for business-like communication".
Hamilton said that - while she happened to be actually gay, it was none of Telecom’s business. She was concerned that the country's biggest public company was spending its time and resources on trifling issues. "If they do have to put content filters on, then maybe they should ensure that it only gets genuinely abusive words," she said.
Telecom's automated reply to her email said the message "was identified by our content filtering processes as containing language that may be considered inappropriate for business-like communication". It confirmed that the offending word was "gay".
A Telecom spokesperson said the response was triggered by the company's internal email monitoring system, which prevented "misuse of email technologies in the workplace and act as a deterrent to harassment".
Ain’t technology wonderful? Thankfully, this comedy of errors provides one more reason why computers and robots can never replace humans.