Do Not Fear Automation, Embrace It
You guys! Remember The Jetson’s when George used to get home and his car would drop him onto a chair which was being pulled along by conveyor belt and he got given pretty much everything as he went by, even the slippers put on his feet by his loving wife?
Some people have recently been writing that we are already in the world of the Jetsons – that many of the things that they envisioned on that show have come to pass – maybe not all in the same way – but in many ways (I’m still waiting for the automated kitchen – maybe a 3D food printer is not so far off) but as far as I’m concerned, we are still holding back from the truly final step which will actually propel us into the future – and its a very, very obvious one: automation.
Sure, with big data, and the internet of things, smartphones and wearables, we know more than we’ve ever done before. We know when you get up, we know when you go to the bathroom, (we know what you do in that bathroom), we know what you grab as a pre-workout snack, we know when you leave your house, we know when you get to your gym (sometimes we just know – Google Maps – and sometimes you tell us – Facebook check in) and so on and so on. We now all carry personal tracking devices that not only tell us where we need to be, they tell (mostly Google) where we are and what we are doing, most of the time.
We know all of these things, and we are trying (well, we may not be personally, but Google and Facebook and the like are) really hard to use that information to make our lives better. For example, when I go sit in the car which is sitting in my driveway at 830 in the morning and fire up my Google search app on my android phone, it shows me the quickest way to get to work – which incidentally, strangely, seems different every day. Now it won’t automatically direct me to the nearest, cheapest gas station if my fuel says it’s low, but if my car was part of the IoT, then maybe it would as it would know that. But my guess is that it will just ask me “do you want to get gas?”
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being asked. It’s 2014 – all of these smart devices around us know so much, but for some reason, we can’t seem to trust them to make any decisions on our behalf. Why can’t our devices automatically text the meeting organizer when our devices sense that we are running late – we still have to tell them too. Why can’t my iTunes queue automatically fill up with the latest DEVO releases when they come out so that I don’t have to seek them out and buy them? Why can’t I automatically get the contact information of everyone who was at the same event I was at instead of having to fumble with business cards, connecting via LinkedIn at the event or random email exchanges?
We know that last step. It’s automation. We need to let our devices, our systems, everything around us, go ahead and do things for us. I know that some of us out there think that’s the direct line to Skynet – but if you ask me, I think we’re overthinking it.
Maybe some of us want to keep double checking that our bills got paid automatically, or are worried that Netflix queue has too much good stuff in it, automatically full of what we want to watch, or are worried that our morning dose of customized Soylent will not taste that great (don’t worry, it will taste exactly how you love it, at the temperature you want it, and automatically adjusted to balance your nutrients after that pizza it knows you ate last night.), but the rest of us are perfectly happy to let those things just happen on their own.
If we truly want to live in the world of the Jetsons, we’ll need to give up control and let things just happen. Why not let our machines make the decisions for us – at least the one we know we have to make, over and over again, every day. Why not free our minds to think about other things than if you’ve got enough milk in the fridge?
Why not free our minds to make the big decisions, think the big thoughts, and do the big things and let the little things take care of themselves?