Different Strokes for Different Folks
How Boxing, an 80s Sitcom, Philosophy, Science, and a 2000s Movie Define Automation for Good
The jab is the first punch any new boxer will learn. It is the most basic strike, but it is the most crucial punch in any good fighter’s toolkit. A quick, technically sound jab can get you out of any situation.
Automation is the jab in our resiliency toolkit. Automation helped us through the “survival mode” necessitated by the pandemic by expediting the distribution of critical resources to our citizens. We continue to benefit from the resulting tailwinds, and we’ve now coined the term “Automation for Good.”
But how do we define good?
Different Strokes for Different Folks
Thus far, we’ve taken a traditional, quantitative approach centred around measuring benefits to organizations. To truly define “good,” we need a way to measure the human impact of automation.
Why is this so difficult?
The difficulty arises from what makes us innately human on a philosophical level: we all feel emotions differently. Imagine how hard it would be to resolve our disagreements based on our favourite sports teams, our preference for iPhones over droids, and POLITICS. But it should give us comfort that fundamentally, we are using our energy fighting the same fight: freedom and identity.
“Now, the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum, what might be right for you, may not be right for some.”
A more dorky perspective. Comparing an organization to society is similar to comparing our world to the Milky Way Galaxy; the galaxy is expansively indescribable, and we cannot quantify its size. Scientists indirectly measure the size of a universe using energy output.
Philosophically or Scientifically, it comes down to energy. Let’s see how we can use this theory to calculate the societal “good” that automation creates.
First, We need to measure where we spend our energy outside of the workplace. The concept here is that the improvement of our work lives due to automation should trickle into our lives outside of the workplace— otherwise, we create a situation where we are just creating new work for us.
We spend roughly 30% of our time sleeping, 40% of our time working, and 30% of our lives doing “other.” Measuring how we use “other” is essential to measure our quality of life.
To do this, we need to start asking the right questions:
- How many times have you been home in time for dinner with your family?
- How many of your kid’s soccer games did you miss?
- How many hours did you spend on your hobby?
- Did you catch the football game last night?
- How many hours are you sleeping?
- How many times have you been able to walk your dog?
- Did you get your nails done recently?
This unorthodox approach is precisely what we need to build something extraordinary — in this case, a shiny pedestal to showcase “good.”
Pay it Forward
Let’s learn from the story about a teacher who gave an assignment to his students to think of an idea to change the world for the better, then put it into action. In this story,
“One young student creates a plan for ‘paying forward’ favors, he not only affects the life of his struggling single mother, but he sets in motion an unprecedented wave of human kindness which, unbeknownst to him, has blossomed into a profound national phenomenon.”
Second, we need to focus on taking a pay it forward approaches with automation. We need to continually think about how we as a society and individuals can unlock the endless possibilities for good that automation provides.
The more we automate, the more we can improve each other’s lives. We need to teach our peers how to collaborate with technology so that they, in turn, can teach theirs. We need to create new skills that replace outdated traditionally marketable ones and create new jobs and opportunities. The actual “good” in automation is that it frees up the time for us to help one another.
There are many ways to measure the pay it forwards benefits of automation, but I feel job creation is a key one. It is a timeless macro metric of society.
Using my medical background, I’m creating an assessment that compiles all relevant evidence-based medical best practices to establish a quick evaluation for our baseline “Human Emotional Automation Impact.” My thesis is that prospectively tracking the results from this assessment will bridge the gap between the quantitative and qualitative benefits of automation.
In the meantime, let’s work together to create a social movement to make the world a “good” -er place. We have been fighting the same fight with the same tools. Automation gives us the tools to create a new pedestal.