United Airlines, Artificial Intelligence, and Donald Trump: Reawakening Values in the Era of Fake Service, Fake Reality, and Fake News

By Avi Liran and Simon L. Dolan

Society has evolved and not all aspects of our lives were able to cope up with the changes and advances of the modern world. The authors elaborately sketch the current state of values particularly in our professional lives. The article is both a discussion and a call to be humane in the midst of an ever changing era.


Imagine that the artificial intelligence era is already here. You are getting off the autonomous taxi at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Your smart suitcases jumps out of the boot and find their way by themselves through security via intelligent check-in process all the way to the plane.

The biometric and security smart sensors identify you without presenting any paper documents. You are cleared smoothly through immigration and walk through the security-scanning tunnel to the duty-free area.

With the boarding pass coded into your wearable computer which is synchronised with the check-in counter, you board United Airlines flight 3411 to Louisville without waiting.

A charming team of robots, who look just like humans, welcomes you on board; the only human on the flight is the captain.

Suddenly you hear an announcement, “This is your Captain speaking. We need four volunteers to de-board the flight. We are offering full compensation and rewards.”

As no one volunteers, four passengers are randomly selected to be removed; you are one of them. Three passengers have complied and left. You refuse. After all, you have paid for your seat and have already boarded, and in addition have a very important meeting to attend.

The robot Purser Bob reports to the Captain:

  • Bob: Captain-Sir, the fourth passenger refuses our order. He demands to stay on board.
  • Captain: Bob, we have four crewmembers that must board the plane. Call airport security. They know how to handle passengers that refuse to obey the Captain.
  • Bob: Captain-Sir, may I remind you of United Airlines first core value listed on our website: “We Fly Right On the ground and in the air, we hold ourselves to the highest standards of safety and reliability.”
  • Captain: I do not care about values. We have four crew members to fly to Louisville. Just follow my orders.
  • Bob: Captain! Sir! May I remind you our other core values: “We Fly Friendly Warm and welcoming; this is who we are.” and “We Fly Together As a united airline; we respect every voice, communicate openly and honestly, make decisions with facts and empathy, and celebrate our journey together.” Removing a sitting passenger who has bought a ticket will not be warm, respectful, empathetic and friendly. It is too late to do it now. We should have done it at the gate before people board.
  • Bob: Moreover, Sir, according to the data that I have compiled, deviating from core values can lead to costly consequences. Do you remember Wells Fargo scandal last year? It resulted with devastating effects on shareholders’ value, brand image and employees’ morale. Five thousand employees were ultimately fired and the CEO was forced to resign. I beg you to reconsider.
  • At this point, the human pilot turns red, loses his temper and raises his voice. “Shut up stupid robot. I am the captain here. I will call security.”

Within minutes the airport security team comprised of a human commander and three armed robots enters the plane. The commander insists that you leave the plane. You refuse.

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liran-webAvi Liran is a consultant, educator, innovator, and expert in the areas of Delivering Delight, Leading with Values, Positive Leadership, and work/fun balance. He can be reached at: [email protected]


dolan-webSimon L. Dolan is one of the world best-known scholar in the field of values, coaching and cultural reengineering. He had researched values for the past 30 years and had invented the “Triaxial Model of Values”, and the “Values of Values tool/Game”. He is a Professor at ESADE Business School, and the president of the Global Future of Work Foundation. He is a prolific writer, with over 70 books in multiple languages. He can be reached at: [email protected]


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The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The Political Anthropologist.