This is a continuation of Journey into the Borg Hive: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five of a SciFi Saga. This series is about a legal search project set sometime in the not too distant future. For a look at fifty years from now check out A Day in the Life of a Discovery Lawyer in the Year 2062: a Science Fiction Tribute to Ray Bradbury.
Dark Times for the Federation
Although things appeared to be going well, I had to tell my team that so far the results were nowhere near good enough for us to get paid. I did not give them specifics, nor share particular documents with them. I had to keep them independent. But I gave them the big picture, that even though we were doing over seven times better than the Borg on a work-hour per relevant document found basis, and even though we had found twice as many relevant documents, the differences were not enough to prove that the Borg review was defective. It just proved it was less efficient search. That impeached their advertising, that’s for sure, but did not constitute a failure, nor prove defective software. If this kept up, we would lose.
I was beginning to doubt myself. Maybe I was wasting my team’s time and my own. Maybe the Borg approach was not as bad as I had thought. Or maybe it was bad alright, but the email evidence in this particular case was so unimportant, that low recall would not make any difference? What was I thinking taking a chance like this? How would I ever make it up to my team if I ended up wasting their time for two weeks? I knew I would have to come out-of-pocket to make it up to them. I wondered if they’d just accept free airlines tickets to somewhere and still work for me again.
I was getting tired of supervising and QCing two teams at once. I was working this around the clock, letting a beard grow to save time. I was afraid that if I lost, the Borg vendor would grow stronger. I could be assimilated myself, along with my whole team. More and more clients might insist we use their software and methods. Imagine the boredom of drone existence, just reading what the computer told you to? Not using independent thought? Not using any other kinds of search? That was not for me. I’d quit first.
I had to tell my team that things looked bad, that there was no clear proof of defective performance. They knew that was required by the software license agreement for Google to get a refund and them to get paid. Neither review team had found a document considered highly relevant. That was the most powerful evidence of effectiveness we knew. We had to find hot docs or risk failure, maybe even assimilation.
I admitted to my team that I might have miscalculated. Maybe there was nothing in Google’s email of any importance to the case? They reassured me. They said one or two of the custodians were very candid in their email. They expected to find something hot any day now. I think they were just trying to cheer me up and keep up the esprit de corps. I was not convinced.
I told them that the documents they had found so far, that the Borg had not, were not all that earth-shattering. The evidence differentials showed superiority, but not defective search under the vendor’s agreement with Google. Also, we always knew that the Borg approach would start off slow and pick up steam with more iterations. Our early lead was bound to narrow in the second half. I was down.
This was bad news for my shadow review team, but they kept boasting just the same. They knew that to get paid the Borg team would have to make a big mistake. Either that, or they would need to do something great, and catch something important that the Borg missed. They were well motivated, that’s for sure. I had to hand it to them, I did not hear a single complaint. They were a terrific team. Called me gloomy. I started thinking to myself about worst case scenarios. I could not ask my firm to pay the shadow team anyway. This was my idea, my risk. It would have to come out of my pocket, but at least it would be a personal tax deduction. I’ve had to do that before.
I finished the meeting with my Federation friends by responding to their daily relevancy questions and comments. I gave the same answers to both groups, both mine and the Borg, but I did not suggest new documents from one side to the other. I had to keep it squeaky clean and be impartial for the defect clause to be effective. I papered my file with detailed status reports, but not literally of course. I hated paper. Hated this project too. These were dark times for the Federation team.
To be continued …