Wednesday, November 07, 2018

You Already Email Like a Robot — Why Not Automate It? | NYT

Tbd when Cortana-powered Clippy++ will appear... (Or maybe not; see Goodbye, Cortana: Microsoft's Javier Soltero leaves, putting the digital assistant's future in doubt | PCWorld)
"Depending on what your current inbox looks like, this might not require much imagination at all. A study conducted in 2016 by researchers at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business in Canada tried to understand the role email had come to play in the modern office. They surveyed “highly educated baby boomer or Gen X” subjects who were mostly “managers or professionals” working in office jobs and found that they spend on average a full third of their workweeks “processing” email. Whatever their titles, they are — like many office workers — to a large extent professional emailers. Even if their roles are otherwise highly specialized, in this significant way they are not. They are their own assistants.

In 1930, John Maynard Keynes wrote that, thanks to new efficiencies, workers of the future could expect “three-hour shifts or a 15-hour week.” He guessed that this would happen within a century. Automation and the abundance it produced has indeed led to countless economic changes, but it did not negate or replace the entire order. Asked for evidence of the success of this newest tool, Google says that Smart Compose is already “saving people a billion characters of typing each week.” This statistic supports one half of what Keynes might have predicted at the dawn of automated communication — the abundance and the glut — but is tellingly silent on the other half, the same half he couldn’t quite see the first time. Self-automation can free us only to the extent that it actually belongs to us. We can be sure of only one thing that will result from automating email: It will create more of it."
You Already Email Like a Robot — Why Not Automate It? | NYT

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