Over the years, I created a number of desktop applications for Windows to automate the generation of documents, statistics, testcase outputs and other types of reports, which otherwise would have been written completely or partially by a person (or more). So I know a thing or two about automation and automating processes.
Automation obviously aims to save time, minimize errors and streamline the process, usually cutting out or reducing the human factor. On the other hand, in my work, all those generated reports and documents were and are of an impersonal nature, it doesn’t matter if I write them, or the next guy, they all should look the same. They are based on raw data and templates, and personal contribution isn’t necessary or desirable.
Lately, with the development of the social media and other online community-oriented platforms, I see an abundance of tools “helping” us automate our accounts. Posting for us using our id (with permission). While I understand this also saves us time, where are “we” in this equation?
We have already accepted and got sucked into a vortex of virtual world, over the direct human interaction and experiencing the world around us. We love our avatars, and count our followers, shares and likes.
But social media, chat rooms, forums and other types of online communities should be socially driven. If a program posts for us on our personal account, how are we part of a community? Sure, if the program posts as itself, with it’s own clearly separated identity, I’m all for it. Otherwise we should as well lose the “social” component of these platforms and transform them into something different.
We actually sometimes act completely out of character ourselves. We want our social media accounts to be popular, we may even feel like we need to. So we look for viral content to share, like or comment on, even if we wouldn’t probably give it a second look if it wasn’t viral.
Just to be clear, I spend a ridiculous amount of time on social media, compared to an average person with internet access. And I only protest because I see where this is going. And I certainly would hate to talk to an AI interface in a few years, thinking it’s my pal Joe (human pal I mean).
Sure, if an account is a news feed of some sort, then auto-posting is even necessary, but on a personal account this depersonalizes the interaction, don’t you think? I mean, even more than a virtual world usually does.
Even in other environments, like customer support or virtual assistants, I still want to know from the start when I’m communicating with a program, rather than to an AI software that impersonates a real human.
The world evolves, sometimes in a rhythm we can barely keep up with, but we are adaptable beings, so we’ll find the resources to deal with it. However, we should be careful how much we want to depersonalize ourselves. What is tolerated or ignored today, may lead to severe repercussions for preserving our humanity in the future.