When we (humans) were part of the production process (say of a shoe), we would put our touch on it, so shoe ‘a’ was different than shoe ‘b’. We might have picked a different material, finished with a different stitch, or run out of a certain sole material.
The differentiation was embedded in every stage of the product. The experience of using such a product would unfold as more details become clear, and the relationship with the object (and brand) would grow with time.
Writing a list of instructions to make our line of shoes, and giving it to a robot would a very different thing. With enough training the robot might produce an objectively superb shoe. The final step would be a beautiful laser etched logo.
The shoe line would perfectly utilitarian, which is perfect for anyone but a human being. With no receptacle for a customer’s emotions such a business would find it hard to develop a relationship, and would run out of new shoes to make (innovation) before a customer would lose interest.
As we pass more on to The Efficiency Machine (algorithms, single minded humans, status quo) we risk losing the differentiation we strive so hard to articulate.
The less we touch our products, the less human they become.