Great commentary, Ben. You made me think a bit about something I forgot to put in this piece initially: I fear that automation has the danger of taking the component of human relationship-building out of many jobs and tasks.
I mean, think about it: many jobs are just tasks that had to be done often enough that someone saw value in doing them for money. Many of these tasks give us humans a chance to interact and connect with each other — but such chances are not necessary for the tasks. Many might think they’re inefficient. A kiosk and a machine-driven set of hangars can fetch my dry cleaning, and I then lose one more opportunity to interact with someone. That person who takes and gives back my coat is out of the equation, and now I’m interacting with someone else even less.
I’m not all mushy about human interaction, and often I prefer not to interact with people when I’m just buying a soda or something. But I know deep down that such an attitude is not great. So when I’m nudged a bit to have to interact with a clerk at the counter — who is essentially holding my goods ransom for an interaction — it’s the kind of nudge that helps me, and helps humanity in general. But it’s the kind of nudge that automating as much as we can will take away. And I’m not sure that’s good for humanity.