Let’s explore how automation has the potential to free up access to the human experience by way of two contrasting yet coexisting outcomes: The first is characterized by extensive automation and efficiency, the second by customization and a recognition of human creativity.
Let’s start with an example. Prior to 1877, the only people who could listen to professional music were the relatively few elites — those who could afford to attend the opera or host private in-home concerts. Certainly, no one was going for runs and listening to Chopin on a smart device. As technology evolved, however, the addressable audience widened. The phonograph was invented in 1877, followed by the radio in 1895, magnetic tape in 1928, digital recordings in the late 1970s and the iPod and streaming services in the early 2000s.
Technology democratized music by transforming analog to digital. Today, we stream music to our phones while we work, work out and work on TikTok dances — and I’m certain audio will become even more democratized as technology evolves. But the on-demand digital nature of music today has not hampered the live analog music industry, as concert sales have increased year over year. There is an increasingly innate value in viewing a live performance, evermore present during this pandemic.