If It Can Be Automated, You Can Be Replaced

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, man has been pitted against machine. And ever since that time, machine has ultimately triumphed. That’s because a well-designed machine will always be more efficient, more accurate, more precise, and more cost-effective in the long run than its flesh-and-bone counterpart. Not all machines have gotten there yet and there’s always more work to be done, but this trend is undeniable.

And it completely and utterly applies to the world of Internet marketing and making money online too. But before we get there, let’s take a few steps back and consider what has already happened in the marketplace over history.

It used to be machines were simply the more effective tools that still had to be wielded by human hands. A sewing machine is more efficient than trying to sew something with just a needle and thread, but someone still has to operate the sewing machine. That’s what we saw with the boom of the manufacturing industry in places like Detroit. But we all know what happened to places like Detroit.

As technology continued to advance and get smarter, fewer people were actually needed to man the machines. Just a small handful of engineers and experts could oversee an entire assembly floor of robots. Each of these robots is assigned a single task that it does over and over again. And it can do this by itself with no intervention. The guy who operated that machine is obsolete.

Because the manufacturing process can largely be automated, the human part of the equation can largely be replaced.

These days, we’re seeing it more and more with the service industry. Here in Vancouver (as well as in many other parts of the world), McDonald’s is installing a number of self-serve kiosks which you use to place your order. While there was once a half dozen cashiers manning the counter, all but one is replaced by a touchscreen terminal. You don’t need a human to take the order, because the machine can do it. And it can do it for less than $15 an hour.

It’s only a matter of time before jobs like taxi and bus drivers are obsolete too. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has explicitly stated that his long-term goal for the company is to have a fleet of self-driving cars doing all the work. People become unnecessary.

So, what does this all mean in the context of making money online? When you consider the kind of the product or service that you have, you really have to think about whether it can be automated. Can you be replaced by a machine or by software?

Do you install and setup WordPress blogs for people? There are automated scripts that can do pretty well all of that. Do you aggregate relevant news to present to analysts and other interested parties? There are algorithms that can handle a lot of that too. They’re not perfect, but as long as they are good enough and as long as they are significantly cheaper, the choice becomes increasingly obvious for your potential customer base.

What value are you providing? What are you doing that some lines of code cannot?

This is why it is critically important that you move away from menial and repetitive tasks, outsourcing them (either to tools or people) so that you can focus on the tasks that really require your unique human input. This is why I foresee more creative careers really flourishing in the next several years.

An algorithm can “intelligently” edit together some video clips for you — we see this happening automatically when you upload enough content to Google Photos — but that algorithm cannot replace the creative vision and unique perspective of a professional video producer and editor. The same is true with writing, graphic design, and app development.

Unique, creative ideas are what will drive the economy and your personal success. Make yourself irreplaceable.

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