The automation is coming, do you realize what we are losing?

I tell a story from time to time, typically in an interview room. The story is about how I tripped over automated testing at Broadcom. and how it became a key component of my job to maintain it. This story, paraphrased, has become a mantra of mine, and I advocate automation everywhere. Automation is a tool I use to improve my own throughput, code quality and demonstrate completeness in my personal life as well as professionally.

As a quick overview of my career:

  • at Broadcom I automated testing;
  • at ASTI Labs I worked on a system that would later automate deployment of test servers;
  • at Rhythm I automated testing again as well as build deployment;
  • at Heartwood I automated a full testing framework, that included generation of code that could later be audited manually, knowing that it would undoubtedly never have a humans eye set upon it.
  • at Fractional I work for a DSP, serving huge numbers of advertisements with only the smallest amount of human curation.

Our mobile marketing platform is 100% programmatic using robust machine learning models to make make the majority of campaign optimization decisions.

As the term has become so commonplace in my career, it may be of some interest to you that I am actually incredibly fearful of the effects it will have on our society, let alone the world. Just today Nerdwriter1 released an exceptionally insightful video about the future of Amazon Go and the prospective future of its impact on the grocery/quickie marts industry.

Here is an article from Business Insider about McDonald’s rolling out self service kiosks across the U.S.

Bennigan’s CEO Paul Mangiamele said in a recent interview that McDonald’s kiosks — as well as self-service technologies at other chains like Panera and TGI Fridays — are a direct response to rising labor costs and calls for a higher minimum wage.

Here is another about the steps the White House is taking to combat automation destroying our labor force.

The report calls for a strong policy response to assure that workers are able to share in the economic growth that results from increased automation. That would include strengthening the social safety net and empowering labor unions in negotiations with employers. (Both steps that would be extremely difficult to achieve in the current political environment.)

Here is the New York Times talking about how we all need to come to terms with the real job killer – Automation.

Donald J. Trump told workers like Ms. Johnson that he would bring back their jobs by clamping down on trade, offshoring and immigration. But economists say the bigger threat to their jobs has been something else: automation.

John Locke is surely rolling in his grave, watching as we move steadily towards a time where working is entirely optional. We already have autonomous cars, factories, mining and trucking. Spending a few minutes to look through these links and checking dates, you will note that they are all recent. This is the way forward, and there is no looking back.

This article has been pretty link heavy, on purpose. I am not trying to persuade you to learn about this any more than I am trying to persuade the machines to not destroy us. This is not my opinion, it is the incredibly strong pulse of an industry that never sleeps; it is the persistent rise of technology trying to save us from ourselves. The same effort and impetus that cuts manually testing a a website from 5 days down to 11 seconds is here pressuring people out of jobs their families have had for generations and into new markets that never existed. These new fields require new skills, where being a manual laborer is simply not an option.

Remember when this was just a neat story? Remember when The Matrix and its lore didn’t cause you to get chills?

But, who are we to be making decisions about things in our own best interest, ultimately? Our lack of understanding and fear may be the only thing we are left to own.

We are the architects of our own demise. Each time we decide to undervalue a good or service we are taking yet another step towards the end of the human story. Our actions today dictate the options we have tomorrow.