Automation can’t do everything, and I hope it doesn’t

Abraham Villarreal
3 min readJun 24, 2024


Someday, automation will take out the trash for me…

In our new world of automation, I’m asking myself who will be changing my kitty litter each day. Doesn’t my cat want me to do it? Doesn’t it say something about our relationship?

Automation may be solving problems, but it’s not replacing, or it shouldn’t, what we mean to each other. Person to person. Person to cat.

I have to take my own trash bag, down my second story apartment, to the corner trash bins for the weekly collection. Automation hasn’t figured out how to do that for me. Maybe one day it will.

The older I get, the more I sound like an old, grumpy man fighting against the advancement of technology. Progress is supposed to be a good thing until it isn’t. Until it changes the kind of society we all say we used to love to have when we were kids.

What we leave behind with progress is what we look back on with the most fondness. Having to go outside after school because there was more to do outdoors than there was inside. Cooking in the kitchen for hours because we had to use our hands to separate and to shape. We had pots that took time to boil ingredients until that perfect golden hour.

Our modern-day anxiousness has us skipping steps, cutting corners, reducing quality, and thinking less. Time is now an enemy, not something we see as value. There was a desire, and there still is in other parts of the world, for us to sit and think. It meant something when we did that, and we always felt better after doing it.

Automation hasn’t replaced thinking, not all of it. We have to think to make progress. We have to think to stop progress. When I was in the city of Salamanca, Spain, recently, I was taken to a time that no longer exists in our country.

The buildings and the churches were erected in the 13th century. The walkways still narrow, the streets uneven. The city’s main plaza, Plaza Mayor, buzzed with energy from diners and tourists. People were up late, the sun setting after 10:00 p.m. Days were long but so were lunch breaks. So was sitting with others for conversations without phones. There was a sense that the things we used to do here were still important there.

The conversations were loud and so was the laughter. I lost my anxiety by just being there. No one was rushing to get to the next place. Laptops weren’t open during meals. When one was out of the office, they didn’t take the office with them. Automation wasn’t an idea worth entertaining.

Now, I’m back home, and as much as I try to fight it, I’m back to my old ways. Wake up, check my phone, go to work, attend an evening meeting… It’s hard to fight what is all around you, but I’m trying. I have a drip coffee machine at the office, not a Keurig. So, there!

Automation can’t write my stories and can’t make you read them. It feels like we are getting close to that place and time, but I’m fighting it. I hope you are too.



Abraham Villarreal

People are interesting. I write about them and what makes them interesting.