The Bot Decade

In the 2010s, automation got better, cheaper, and way less avoidable. It’s still mysterious, but no longer foreign; the most Extremely Online among us interact with dozens of AIs throughout the day

That means driving directions are more reliable, instant translations are almost good enough, and everyone gets to be an adequate portrait photographer, all powered by artificial intelligence. On the other hand, each of us now sees a personalized version of the world that is curated by an AI to maximize engagement with the platform. And by now, everyone from fruit pickers to hedge fund managers has suffered through headlines about being replaced.

Humans and tech have always coexisted and coevolved, but this decade brought us closer together—and closer to the future—than ever. These days, you don’t have to be an engineer to participate in AI projects; in fact, you have no choice but to help, as you’re constantly offering your digital behavior to train AIs.

So here’s how we changed our bots this decade, how they changed us, and where our strange relationship is going as we enter the 2020s.

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