Will A Robot Replace You?

It was father’s day yesterday. I sat down with my father and spoke for a few hours on various subjects. We briefly discussed a topic that reminded me of something I learnt way back in college. It’s a concept from physics. I was actually quite awful at physics so I apologize in advance if my interpretation is incorrect. But here it goes anyway.

In physics, “work” happens when a force is applied to an object such that it moves from A to B. If you exert the force, but the object doesn’t move, the work done is zero.

In regular life, we don’t think of work the same way. But I think we should. If our actions aren’t bringing about a change or a result, I’d like to think that the work done is zero. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, or how many hours you put in, because as long as you couldn’t move the needle, the work comes down to zero.

I feel that in normal life work should be measured as Force x Displacement and we should move away from our current definition of work as only force. In addition, we should make our best effort in order to have maximum displacement for the force we put in. If employee A works longer hours than employee B, but delivers the same value in the end, it may seem that A worked more, but in my opinion, they worked just as much as they pushed the object just as much. Here’s an interesting case-study.

Savannah Sanchez, a Facebook marketer, did an interesting video that I don’t completely agree with, but I find it interesting to share here today. Her thesis is that Facebook’s AI has gotten so advanced, that a human marketer working over 10 hours a week on an ad account was able to deliver just about the same ROAS that another ad account delivered which wasn’t touched at all during same period and was only optimized by Facebook’s algorithm. If you want to watch the video at the exact time, you can do so here. Or you could watch the full video below

The reason why I shared this here is because when a robot can deliver the same value, your working hours i-e force is worthless. It’s the displacement that counts, and if a robot can do that better than you, you’ll be replaced. Although, I don’t think that time has come yet but I know it isn’t far.

I’ve used Facebook as a marketing tool for about 10 years now, and to think that there’s no more human tweaking possible on Facebook any longer is an alien concept to me. 10 years ago, you could do a thousand tweaks and the system would play along. Now, it’s increasingly harder but I feel expert marketers i-e a small percentage of all marketers could still do better than the system. In a few more years though, I wouldn’t be surprised if that number shrinks to a mere fraction.

The Right Way to Talk to AI Support to Lift Limitations

A few days ago, I spoke about the visa restrictions on the internet. I also wrote a bit about how you can circumvent those. Today, I’m going to write about a certain kind of visa restriction that I often face.

Large platforms treat users from different countries differently. They do that to apparently keep their platform “safe”. To keep the platform safe, they look at the data they have on each country, the amount of spam/scam etc happening from each country or region and then develop rules to treat each user accordingly. In theory, this means it’s harder to use these platforms from Pakistan than it is from US even if all you’re trying to do is use the platform the right way.

One such restriction that I’ve always seen happen is completely losing access to account. For example in the past, I’ve lost access to my Facebook personal account and Facebook ad accounts. Google Adsense is also more likely to get disabled in Pakistan than in US. There’s always the option to appeal for both these platforms but appeal often results in nothing.

A friend of mine devised a strategy to deal with these appeals. His theory is that all account closures happen with no human intervention. The decisions are completely taken by the machines. He also believes, and I agree, that in most cases the appeal process also happens without any human intervention. So how can you convince a machine into accepting your appeal?

My friend uses emotional signals to deal with this. If you’re apologetic or regretful in your tone of appeal, your appeal is never going to get accepted. You’re guilty and you’re showing it in your tone. Instead, my friend is angry, distressed and disappointed when he’s appealing; and I’ve seen it first hand that the appeal is much more likely to work.

Visa Restrictions On The Internet

While I acknowledge that internet is the biggest game changer of the human history, it is still not what it was supposed to be or what it can be.

In the offline world, all humans aren’t born equal. They are born in certain conditions where their lives are driven by their socioeconomic circumstances. Their lives are dictated by their place of birth and half of what they can and can’t do is written in the stone. Sure they can break the chains and the barriers to come out stronger but that happens very seldom.

On the internet, everyone has the same opportunities. In theory, though. You could get on YouTube and make a living regardless of where you live. Hundred of millions of people have benefited from such global opportunities that didn’t exist 30 years ago. But these global opportunities are still not provided equally to everyone, although they are marketed as such always.

For example, YouTube first launched their monetization partner program in 2006 for select countries but it wasn’t until 2016 that this program was launched in Pakistan.

Facebook restricts fresh Pakistani ad accounts at Rs 1000/day spend ($6.46 on today’s exchange rate) while a fresh US account is restricted at $50/day spend. Restrictions are lifted more quickly for the developed world, and less quickly for the emerging world. The scrutiny of AI is much harsher for us than it is for the developed world.

In summary, AI is no different than the visa issuing officers that judge us more than our counterparts elsewhere in the world.

On the bright side, in the offline world, if you try hard enough, you can sometimes circumvent these restrictions. You can sometimes emigrate or obtain a better travel document by meeting certain criteria or just by wanting to have it bad enough.

Since internet is almost always better than the offline world in every regard, you can also circumvent a lot of these restrictions if you try hard enough. In fact, on the internet, like everything else, this circumvention is often not as hard as in the offline world.

Perhaps, we’ll talk more of this circumvention in another blog.