"Ten years ago, the new Denver International Airport marched boldly into the future with a computerized baggage-handling system that immediately became famous for its ability to mangle or misplace a good portion of everything that wandered into its path.
Now the book is closing on the brilliant machine that couldn't sort straight. Sometime over the next few weeks, in an anticlimactic moment marked and mourned by just about nobody, the only airline that ever used any part of the system will pull the plug. An episode bowing equally to John Henry, Rube Goldberg and Hal from "2001" will end. People will be fully back in charge.
'Automation always looks good on paper,' said Veronica Stevenson, a lead baggage handler for United Airlines and president of the union local that represents United's 1,300 or so baggage handlers in Denver. 'Sometimes you need real people.'(...)
Turning off the computer and reverting to the old-fashioned use of human beings who drive luggage carts from gate to gate - the way things are still done at most airports - will save $1 million a month in maintenance costs, which have far exceeded expectations. (...)
'It wasn't the technology per se, it was a misplaced faith in it,' said Richard de Neufville, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (...) 'The main culprit was hubris.' "
Denver Airport Saw the Future. It Didn't Work.