The People Suffer From Lack of Automation.
You get an app, she gets an app, and everyone around gets an app! There is no shortage of mobile or web apps out in the wild. More and more apps come online every day with no notion of it ever coming to an end. Google Play has an estimated 2.2 million apps. The Apple Store has just over 2 million apps while the Windows Store and the Amazon Store both come just over 600,000 total apps. These staggering numbers can be seen here. Some would argue that this is a good thing and that it's a symbol of human technological advancement yet our work hours and manual labor have only increased. More apps cannot be a symbol of technological advancement. In fact, I will argue how it is an indication of a lack of technological advancement and ingenuity.
Let's look at the definition of the term automation as defined by Webster....
AUTOMATION: the technique, method, or a system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum.
Here is another good definition in the Encyclopedia Britannica.....
Automation, the application of machines to tasks once performed by human beings or, increasingly, to tasks that would otherwise be impossible. Although the term mechanization is often used to refer to the simple replacement of human labour by machines, automation generally implies the integration of machines into a self-governing system. Automation has revolutionized those areas in which it has been introduced, and there is scarcely an aspect of modern life that has been unaffected by it.
There is something very important to understand about Automation which the definitions above mention. The key takeaways are "Reducing Human Intervention to a minimum" and "Integration of machines into a self-governing system". This is the main focus point for this post.
REDUCING HUMAN INTERVENTION TO A MINIMUM
Every time I see a new app come online that requires too much manual human interaction I am immediately aware that the app is NOT an automated solution to a problem. In fact, it is bound to create more problems than it solves for the engineers building it, and the society at large. As mentioned before there are millions of poorly designed mobile and web apps out there that require a large amount of manual interaction day in and day out. The human being is saturated to the max with all these apps competing for their attention and neither the builders, or users can keep up. To make it worse, we are working longer hours than we ever did prior to industrialization!! Any society that has to work this hard to maintain itself is NOT TECHNOLOGICALLY advanced. In fact, you could argue that all we've done is create more work for ourselves just for the sake of keeping us busy doing work, which is a whole level of insanity that I can't begin to comprehend.
Millions of Apps being created over and over again is a symptom of a lack of automation, not the presence of it. A user should never have to browse an app store to find something. A user should never need to download an app and register their username and password over and over again from app to app. A user should never have to juggle hundreds of apps on multiple devices. Our brains are not evolved enough to handle that level of saturation. This is complete madness, that must change if things are to get better for humanity.
Apps are one offs, but they do not constitute the kinds of automation that represent true technological advancement. An automated system that is ubiquitous is the best type of system. The trouble is there are so few of these in the world known to the public. In fact, I can only think of a few companies that have gone mainstream. Amazon, with their new platform Echo is a change in the right direction of computing. It is a perfect example of a automated system with a single interface, that matches the true definition we've explored above. It frees the user up from having to surf and shop the web manually and keeps user interaction to a minimum.
The only way to extract value from computer technology is to use it to reduce required human input and manual labor, not increase it. The problem with the tech industry as of late is that it has been doing neither of those two things. Instead we get more apps, that we manually have to play with and use just to get things done. It also forces very talented engineers to spend the majority of their time manually maintaining these systems!! They say technological advancement creates more jobs, but this is not necessarily a good thing, nor should it be considered technological advancement. Instead it is work creating more work which is a key indicator that the original problem was not solved well enough.
INTEGRATION OF MACHINES INTO A SELF GOVERNING SYSTEM
Lets take a look at the early days of the car. In 1893 it was known as the "Horseless Carriage". This name tells you much about the problem that man was seeking to solve. The initial problem that was being solved was improving the time it took to get from point A to point B. Back in those days this was an issue because it was extremely expensive to maintain a horse. Trips from settlement to settlement took several days because of the need to stop, rest and feed the horses that were responsible for pulling the carriage. One can imagine the hardships involved with such a means of transportation.
Once the Horseless Carriage came it was guaranteed to revolutionize travel by speeding up the process of traveling long distances. This concept continued to improve all the way toward 1908 when Henry Ford mass produced these types of vehicles and released them to the masses. It is important to note that the problem that was being solved was a matter of distance, not automation! Why we called it the automobile is beyond me, because we have not seen a true automobile until IBM's creation of Olli and Google's Self driving car came on the scene. These are systems that can be considered automated solutions because they are Integrated and Self Governing, which is a true breakthrough in technology that should not be ignored!
We are in need of more ubiquitous systems that are self governing. As of now there is a major shortage of these types of systems, but a major surplus of primitive apps that do not truly solve problems. It's tough to hear this, but that's the truth. People want technology that changes their life and reduces complexity. People might want their clothes to be folded automatically for them. People might also want their dinner cooked for them. The world needs more automation. Not more Apps. If your organization is creating apps instead of solving automation problems, you're creating more monotonous work for people, which is only distracting the human race, and not improving it.