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Eugene Dorfling
Eugene Dorfling

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The Automation Era: If only we had time

Today it is becoming increasingly easier to automate tasks with the help of third-party and outsource tools that you can quickly use a drag and drop interface with to set up an automation script.

Apple has released the app called shortcuts that allows you to automate tasks on your iPhone which is pretty cool. You can do all kinds of great automation scripts easily, you simply add the functions you want to run in sequence with the use of an intuitive GUI and in no time your iPhone is doing tasks all on its own, you can even talk to Siri about them.

While I think the app is great, I believe the main goal from Apple’s perspective is to collect data on what people want to automate form their phones. With this app, Apple has great insight into what most people want to automate, and with this information they have the power to add these functions to their platform by default, building the best personal assistant.

The app to me feels like a transition from doing things yourself to slowly allowing, and more importantly, trusting AI (Artificial Intelligence) to take care of your boring but important daily tasks without you worrying about them.

Soon we are not going to spend so much of our precious creative energy on remembering to make that payment, book a haircut, or even take our car for a wash. Automation is quickly taking over repetitive tasks, freeing up space in our minds to think about how we can add more value to our loved opensource projects instead. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

At the moment though, there are too many services out there that want to make things easier for you...and that makes it difficult.

Most of them have one or two kick-ass features and a lot of them have almost everything you would want except for those one or two crucial features that you cannot live without. The result, too many open tabs.(in your browser and in your head) I have to constantly duplicate work across platforms to perform certain tasks, using this service from that platform and that service form this platform, and so on. It can quickly turn to chaos if not managed properly.

Luckily, most platforms have realized that they offer one or some great features but they cannot offer them all, hence the world of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). With APIs we can now combine the features we like into one application, making life easier and using fewer resources with fewer browser tabs open.

The thing is still, other than the fact that not all APIs do what you want them to do and not all of them like to work with each other, we still need to spend a lot of "additional" energy on building these automatons.

Now that we are empowered to start building our own automation programs easily we still find ourselves rather doing the repetitive tasks, because the task is actually small compared to building an application that will do it for you. For instance, automating a task that takes 20min per day could take you 4 hours to build. Most of us simply don’t have 4 hours to dedicate to something that just takes 20min a day. However, if you can find the time to build the automation you will create an extra 2 hours per week, which you can then use to start working on your next automation.

We are quickly nearing a tipping point where the energy we spend on automating tasks will outweigh the energy we spend on actually doing them. For now, though, I suggest putting some time aside and get to automating.

Happy Hacktober!

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