Making things easier Tech is getting out of hand

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 26, 2016
Updated • Sep 26, 2016

A recent trend in the past couple of years is to make things easier for users, especially when mobile devices are used.

That's not a bad thing when you look at it on first glance; who would not want things to be easier after all. Using improved services or apps may save time, improve workflows, or do away with boring or repetitive tasks.

Tech is however moving in a direction where these improvements may be getting out of hand. A simple example is Google's new Allo messenger.

One of the features of the integrated AI is that it can suggest answers to messages that you receive. If a friend sends you a pic of his or her cat, you may get suggestions like "ah sweet cat" or similar.

So, instead of having to type a reply, you simply tap on one of the suggestions to reply. You may still write your own reply if the suggestions don't match what you want to express though.

Eventually, with improvements in AI, text and image recognition and in other fields, these replies may be automated. Imagine a world where two bots communicate with each other on behalf of actual human beings.

The user takes a photo of a cat, the AI knows that cat pics are sent to some contacts and does so automatically. The bot on the other end recognizes the new cat picture, and replies stating that the picture is particularly good.

Another example. Microsoft filed a patent recently, "QUERY FORMULATION VIA TASK CONTINUUM", which tries to make searches more efficient by providing search engines with information on what the user has been doing in other apps or programs.

Microsoft's solution, at least as described in the patent, is to use an agent that acts as a mediator between programs and search. That agent monitors what the user is doing in apps, and provides those information to search to produce better results.

So, instead of having to write good search queries to find information, users can rely on the agent's monitoring for that. Microsoft made no mention as to what happens when you run unrelated searches in that context.

Then there is Amazon Dash; a product that lets you order products on Amazon with a button press. Amazon Dash buttons are linked to individual products. This means that you can order one product with a Dash button and no others.

The idea behind the product is simple: if you are out of a product or almost out, you press that button to order that product again.

While it makes thing simpler, it is not as if the process of ordering products on Amazon is much harder than that especially if you work on a PC or computing device regularly.

Dash buttons remove control however. Since you link one favorite product to it, you can only order that product from Amazon using the button. If you want a different flavored product or type, you have to go to Amazon to link the button to that product first.

Also, the button does not reveal to you the price of the product, nor provides you with information such as when you ordered the product the last time or if one is one its way.

Another Microsoft example: the company announced recently that it would switch from delivering individual patches to Windows systems to providing cumulative updates instead.

Instead of getting individual patches that you can install or block -- which you may want to do if one of those patches is borked -- you get an all or nothing approach. If one of those patches misbehaves, you cannot just uninstall it and keep every other patch installed. That's highly problematic especially for security patches.

Closing Words

Tech that makes things easier is not a bad thing, but it seems to get out of hand more often in recent time. Usually, it goes hand in hand with losing privacy or control in the process.

You could argue that you don't have to use these things. While true for many, it is not true for all. There is little that you can do about Microsoft's new cumulative patch approach for instance.

Now You: What's your take on this?

Making things easier Tech is getting out of hand
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Making things easier Tech is getting out of hand
The article discusses a recent trend in computing that tries to make things easier for the user, and here especially that it is getting out of hand.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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