By Contextere • August 17, 2017

The Monkey Wrench Effect: Die Hard with a Vengeance

Our intrepid CEO, Gabe Batstone, has often said that actionable insights and curated guidance can assist workers in just about any job in any industry. After pestering my wife to watch the latest Marvel movie, I was reminded of what he said. If the characters in my favourite movies had access to the contextere platform, how would their movies have played out? Could Luke Skywalker have blown up the Death Star without needing to use the force? Could Captain America have uncovered Hydra’s corruption of S.H.I.E.LD sooner? Thus, The Monkey Wrench Effect was born. An examination of how our favourite movies would have played out if their characters had access to AI, intelligent personal agents, and the opportunities that an IoT connected world presents.

The Movie:

Released in 1995, Die Hard with a Vengeance pulled in over $350M worldwide and receiving acclaim from the series’ fans and newcomers alike. Set in New York, this movie follows alcoholic NYPD detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) and electrician Zeus Carver (Samuel L Jackson) as they attempt to track down the mysterious German terrorist Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons) before he blows up a school somewhere in the five boroughs.

The Toolbox:

Besides the third installment of the Die Hard movie franchise being the best one*, it is suitable here because it takes place in New York City, an evolving smart city and global hub. John McClane would have excellent enterprise and public data stores to tap while simultaneously screaming incoherently and wiping more grime on to his shirt. Procedural guidance, interactive inspections, and real-time data curation would be invaluable to him as he attempts to solve Simon’s riddles and diffuse his bombs. However, he is certainly not the only character in the movie facing logistical challenges.

The first wrench:

Malicious terrorist and all-round charming jerk, Simon Gruber, has his work cut out for him. He needs to distract the NYPD with phony bomb threats in order to break in to the Federal Reserve with heavy machinery operated by untrained workers to steal hundreds of tonnes of gold bullion.

In his situation, the use of real-time work order creation is tantamount to success. His team will be working with unfamiliar equipment while facing extremely tight deadlines. AI could be utilized to select his mercenaries best suited to operate boring and excavation equipment based on their digital profiles, whilst those with the appropriate experience and certifications would be dispatched to provide security and safety assurance for their gold heist.

Had they been in a connected worksite, data collected from workers’ wearable devices could have been used to keep everyone updated on their proximity vis-à-vis the gold vault and each team member’s position allowing for greater coordination and improved productivity. Simon Gruber would have successfully emptied the Federal Reserve’s vault in less time, with no loss of life, and increased the competencies and training of his band of merciless thugs.

The second wrench:

John McClane is not technically savvy, so when faced with the challenge of diffusing a bomb on a New York subway he will need quick access to plenty of digital and physical resources. Upon the initiation of this task, a series of micro-form work orders could be dispatched to both McClane and MTA transit personnel. The conductor would be first tasked with an emergency stop and evacuation of the passengers, while the central MTA dispatch would be informed of the stoppage who then could reroute subway traffic to reduce downtime.

McClane would receive a multi-stage worked order instructing him to: (1) inspect the explosive device via interactive checklist to ensure the device is, relatively, safe to work on, (2) diffuse the bomb via procedural guidance generated by accessing manuals and documentation stored in NYPD data centres and direct connection with NYPD bomb squad personnel, and (3) verify that the bomb has been properly diffused with a combination of smart sensor data feeds and visual inspection.

Now, with the movie completely ruined, we can see that the proper application of AI and human ingenuity has allowed for complex tasks to be performed by personnel with lower competencies resulting in improved on-site training, a reduction of non-productive time that can result in work stoppages and missed deadlines (rather incendiary deadlines, in this case), and increased safety through optimised workforce allocation and safety alerts.


*To our readers outraged by this statement, whose hearts have room only for the first movie: I respect your position but vehemently disagree. May we meet in contest on the streets of geek Valhalla.