Apr 19th 2019
Why Vungle Isn’t Afraid of Automation (And You Shouldn’t Be Either)
Becky Liu, Jr. Creative Designer at Vungle Creative Labs.
Worried about machines taking over? Overcome your fear of new tech by owning your creativity and your natural need to learn. Vungle’s experiment with automation led to a few interesting inventions…
Fear versus knowledge
So far, stripping out manual, repetitive, and monotonous tasks through machine automation has reaped humans many benefits such as increased worker safety and decreased overworking. But economists fear that by replacing labor, tomorrow’s Jetsons-esque contraptions will spike unemployment rates.
Machines are no doubt becoming more prominent in the workplace. According to Kai-Fu Lee’s AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, as many as 40% of jobs will become automated in the next 15 years. And this is not a contemporary concern. When computer automation threatened to replace Dorothy Vaughn, one of NASA’s first black female mathematicians, Vaughan reacted by learning more about the computer and quickly becoming the most proficient operator, subsequently training her team so that they not only kept their jobs but became integral employees, shattering racial and gender barriers at NASA and eventually developing the technology that dominated the Space Race.
Surely, Vaughn must have been at first intimidated by the unknown, much as today we fear we’re staring into a technological abyss that is about to awaken and stare back. Some of us, however, are making the smart decision of learning how to work alongside this new technology, using it to better lives. Education — how we explore the unknown and explain away its terrors — is the core of all successful societies.
Automation that adds, not subtracts
Many of us have already dabbled in automating aspects of our daily life — from self-services to cash machines to webform autofills. Online and offline tools are integrated seamlessly and invisibly into the palms of our hands — but is this improving the way we live, or is it pushing us out of the equation?
In Vungle’s experience, automation means sparing the workforce from repetitive, uninteresting tasks that leave one feeling hollow an unfulfilled. Our dev team continuously pinpoints administrative areas that can be tightened up somehow, lightening the team’s workload by building them scalable in-house tools. Recently, a Vungler conjured a script that condensed a month-long, soul-sucking ad conversion process into a two-minute task. This freed up a lot of time for the creative team to focus on what we love and know best — slick, data-guided mobile ads.
Last December, Vungle Creative Labs took part in a mini-hackathon. This fun-filled, two-day workshop spawned a new tool that turned gameplay assets into interactive games through layers of code (yeah, like Bandersnatch). Our dev team evolved this auto-compiler into a much-used internal plugin that our creative team synthesized easily through existing design tools and UI, improving project workflows. With this plugin, we created interactive experiences called Playables+ that are now ad formats supported on Vungle’s network. A tool built for fun and nurtured to streamline our workflow ended up provided new business for us.
Vungle Creative Labs Hackathon, December 2018
Creatively, we definitely did not feel like we were being replaced. Rather, we had the opportunity to be more creative! We were excited to produce complicated code with a few simple clicks. We didn’t see this as a case of human against machine; to us, this was a matter of discovering the best-possible tools to help your team flourish together.
Writing your own humans.txt
Creativity — the ability to think differently, solve a problem, or accomplish something in a new, spontaneous way — is something that will probably never be perfectly accomplished in AI. Creativity requires a background born from pure, unadulterated emotional experiences, which no robot can truly replicate.
The future requires us to overcome our ignorance and fears of being surpassed. Technology is advancing, but so are our modes of communication, our moral compasses, our opinions, etc. Your best bet is to use and improve the best asset you have — yourself. Everyone has an incredible power to make life a bit easier for all. Despite machines taking over aspects of our jobs, our input is still required to develop the very technology to keep up with our everchanging needs, and vice versa.
Machines can replace us if we let them. But we’re more intelligent than that! So don’t let the fear deter you from a world of possibilities. We should be lifelong learners if we want to get ahead of the game and mature as a species in proportion to the tech we produce. Sizzle your creative juices and find new ways to automate your life, so you find the time to become an awesome human being — because empathy and creativity are the keys to succeeding in the age of machines.