Obsession with Efficiency
[AI, Efficiency, Human Experience]
Today we explore our obsession with efficiency in the context of AI and its rise. AI is taking off quickly and it will not only change productivity, but also our concept of work. If we take this to the extreme, what happens to the human experience?
Let’s dive right in!
🙏 Share Life in Color with a friend and ask them to subscribe
🙏 Share on Twitter / Linkedin with a short note
🙏 Share on your company Slack / Teams channels and communities
The Human Quest for Efficiency
All animals are wired with animal programming that dictates our survival.
For instance, lions seem to be wired and pre-programed with a set of responses:
when they are hungry, they hunt
when they have a cub, they care for it
when they sense danger, they protect
It all a series of “if-then” statements.
Certainly, we have this “animal programming” and set of “if-then” statements installed in us as well. When we are hungry, we eat, when we sense danger, we feel a need to protect or run, etc.
But in addition to the survival instinct, we also have other abilities that no other animal seems to have — our abilities for deeper thought, to tell stories, to connect, to socialize, etc.
Human interaction with other humans enabled the mixing and sharing of ideas. This led to some pretty amazing things like building buildings, inventing technology, creating societies and everything that humans have created that other species did not.
One way to look at the instinct that allows us to thrive is our need for efficiency.
Our need for efficiency created the modern systems of commerce, work, living, currency and everything you can think of that falls under society.
Said another way, there was once a more inefficient way to do these things.
Commerce use to be about bartering and trading, now that’s largely been extrapolated away with systems of currency. Then systems of physical currency got too tedious, so we then invented the modern banking system.
The same evolution happened in information sharing. We started writings on walls, then books, then libraries, then big computers, then computers that can fit into our home, then computers that can fit on our lap, and then computers that can fit into our pocket.
Our obsession with efficiency makes us constantly ask: can we do it faster, better and cheaper?
This is at the heart of all (technological and non-technological) innovation.
Can we off load more tasks and jobs-to-be-done to technology?
Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency!
Where does efficiency lead us?
But if our need for efficiency is so great, we won’t stop where ever we are today. Today we are increasingly getting machines (i.e. AI) to do work for us and maybe eventually to think for us as well.
In the modern world, very few people (if any) want to find information the “old school way”. We don’t want to investigate things for ourselves. It’s just too much work and too disruptive for our daily lives…
Who has the time!
Instead we live in a world powered by TL;DRs.
Segmentation and labels are key inventions to enable a ruthlessly efficient world. In the name of efficiency, we’ve leaned into curation across different parts of our lives.
In short, we depend on efficiency driven systems.
And increasingly these systems powered by technology are making decisions for us, in some ways indirectly through suggestions / curation and in many ways directly.
Are we buying this jacket because we like this jacket or because we see everyone else wearing this jacket on social media?
Are we buying this water bottle because we care about the environment or do we want this as a status symbol?
Are we living in this city because we love the city or because it’s where everyone who looks like me lives?
This begs the question on where does this desire for efficiency ultimately lead us?
This question is becoming more relevant day by day with the progress of exponential technologies like AI.
The Human Experience
Since AI is an exponential technology, it won’t just incrementally improve our lives, but instead it will drastically change our lives. The impact to society is increasing faster than what we are ready for.
For as much as we all complain about work, our work seems to be a key part of the human experience.
AI is changing the work paradigm. (See AI Rewires our Work Model)
In a world where AI handles productivity, what does the concept of work even look like?
On the one hand, there are some people who are find with the end of work and we just “enjoy life.” On the other hand, there are those who believe the concept of work will just change and we’ll all be better off for it.
If we take our obsession for efficiency to the extreme, does AI eventually abstract away all of our work (and potentially even our thinking?)
We often talk about AI through the lenses of technology.
But what AI does to the human experience will be as critical to think through.
The extreme end of any spectrum is rarely a good thing.
🥳 Get with the times and subscribe to Life in Color! 👇