Deliveroo openly states that its commercial goal is to make 'cooking a hobby' and no-one blinks. Airbnb founder Brian Chesky states that if you've stayed one night in an Airbnb in a foreign city then you've 'lived there'. The human element is vanishing.
Football managers are starting to curb the instincts of players to improvise and try (for example) to shoot outside a certain distance because the data science says that it's statistically too risky to do so. This has been gradually changing the way the game is played and enjoyed as a spectator sport and is all of a sudden becoming very apparent to spectators.
Is there a link? I would argue that there is.
All of these are examples of the in-built logic that creeps into pre-determined codified outcomes that are assumed as both inherently inevitable and better than their analogue predecessors. Central to the 'Codefiers' position is a direct rebuttal of the inevitability of that position and the reframing of that logic factoring in the interplay with the human capital that it is trying to replace. A human capital that once lost is very hard to reclaim and replace.
For example, if a whole generation starts treating cooking as a hobby then an innate human need that has some of the deepest historical, sociological and biological history will be replaced by a fleet of green garbed cyclists shepherding cooked meals from increasingly data driven restaurant kitchens around cities worldwide. Is this a better human outcome? Is this at all desirable? Is the utilitarian ability to satisfy every culinary whim with the swipe of an app a better situation than each generation learning, nurturing and enhancing deep set and rich culinary traditions? Equally does watching your team that your grandfather supported becoming more and more efficient and even more successful, but gradually having the colour and personality diluted out of it, make the experience and enjoyment of watching football richer and better?
Of course there are visible benefits, Deliveroo has arguably banished the dodgy and overprice curry to the backwaters and guilty pleasure of takeaways, opening up binge watch companions and choices previously unimaginable. There is something joyfully elegant to the experiencing of summoning an Uber and watching it chart itself to your door. And Harry Kane is arguably the first player to reach global status on the basis of literally consuming the data science - he's just hired a personal chef at home so he can regulate his diet there - his manager constantly feeds him. I’m personally happy about this – I’m a Tottenham fan! Of course Codification brings huge gains and utility to many scenarios and outcomes. This is not in any way a good / bad, digital / analogue, progress / stasis argument.
These are open questions still. We have to let time play out in order to ascertain the overall macro effect: which of course may still be a net gain for humanity. The point is however, that that empowering of and kowtowing to the logic of codification without understanding or even acknowledging what might be lost, seems to be a hugely undervalued risk. It is creeping into scenarios, settings and systems without this risk or even that it is a risk at all, being acknowledged or understood. We think this is not a sensible future position to fatalistically assume and adopt.
This is what it feels 'Codefiers' is increasingly about. Stepping into the force and logic of codification and 'Defying' it by simply asking the human questions about what it impacts rather than accepting the marketing and hyperbole. We're starting to see more and more people connect the dots and resonate with this position and we're pretty sure Brain Clough himself, twice winner of the European Cup twice with a team of relative outsiders, would have agreed at least in spirit!
If we continue to let algorithms weed out these outliers, sieve out traditions, out shout common sense, our bellies might be fuller, our transport and our football might be more efficient but our net human gain and experience might be poorer as a result. As a Codefier...start to ask yourself, is just blindly accepting the logic of Codification in whatever sector, worth the risk without questioning and examining it first? If the market logic of the gain is fundamentally geared towards the dilution of previously valued experiences and even the eventual erosion of meaningful alternatives?
Dan Simmons | Founder | Propelia - www.propelia.com