I think a lot about automation, and work in the trenches on it daily.
The value each of us actually want with automation is:
- Simplification, from tiny directions into broad strokes
- ideally, an outcome vs. process directions
- and eventually, prediction of likely desires based on unstated patterns
We’d all like a servant to just make us breakfast or dinner, chauffeur us to meetings, and handle our taxes.
A good butler (say, Carson in Downton Abbey), would learn the whims of his / her employer and implement them without even a direct request.
To know what the common people want, just look to the lifestyles of the wealthy.
In business, one can just look at more successful competitors and specifically their HR structure to get a sense for what the market needs.
Ideally, I should be able to tell my e-bot to get me real estate leads via any method possible with parameters of up to $100 per real live, non-induced, phone verifiable lead.
The outcome vs. process mind set is key, but in all real-world applications, parameters are required for any of this to be of value. Producing real estate leads at a cost of $800/each is pointless – unless your average listing is $1mil+ ($30k commissions). A robot that could take out a frozen meal and microwave it for you, then bring it to the table isn’t terribly valuable – the implied parameters include something good and preferably fresh.
To know the cost-per-lead, the robotics must know not just the ad spend, but the conversion ratios on landing pages and offers, have API access to traffic methods, and some API based method of running campaigns. For now, human oversight is required – though technically, just for the ad campaign itself, which could even be outsourced.
Ten years from now, coders like me will have figured out how to make what’s essentially a Von Neumann probe for money: self-replicating bots that run a lean-canvas experiment autonomously, figure out the profitable limits, and scale up a campaign via programmatic media. One could almost build this now using dropshipping and outsourced gig-economy workers for fulfillment, running programmatic split-tested media.
And so, it’s back to work for me. For today, I’m the servant, working toward building my own replacement army.