An economist friend asked me if there were still productivity gains to be had for office workers (like us). After all, we have email, social networks, skype and other easy ways to connect with everyone not to mention search for everything. Most tasks are pretty straightforward to do online. How much easier can it get?
There are some obvious answers to his question, such as better automated filtering of all the information thrown at us. But here's what I really would love to see--an automated electronic me.
I have about 115000 email conversations in Gmail not counting spam. Google must have tens or hundreds of billions of emails from everyone combined.
So Google can learn both how many emails are typically answered and also my particular email style. So when I hit reply, Gmail should be able to pre-fill a reasonable reply. I can edit as needed and then send. Saves me much time.
Of course Google will learn from the changes I make and get more accurate each time. After a while I can trust Gmail just to answer a subset of my email. After a while it can answer most of my email. In the future Google can referee papers, write my blog posts and prepare my class lectures.
I can hide out and proof theorems while Google does everything else for me. Until Google proves its own theorems and then I'm just out of a job.