Autonomous Agents Suck But Here's Why I'm More Bullish Than Ever

They break all the time, they get stuck, they can’t reach their objective, their abilities are too limited, or their completed result is not good enough.

Autonomous agents are pretty horrible today. I literally wrote the guide on autonomous agents (with over 150,000 readers), but I’m going to tell you the truth. They break all the time, they get stuck, they can’t reach their objective, their abilities are too limited, or their completed result is not good enough.

But. I am still super bullish on autonomous agents.

And here is why.

People have a problem where they are constantly balancing two types of tasks:

  1. Tasks that only they can do (high impact tasks)

  2. Tasks that someone else could do for them but they don’t have anyone to do them so they still have to do them

You probably already can sort out which tasks on your list right now fall into each of these categories.

And it doesn’t stop here, each of these tasks goes into different todo lists that have different stakeholders and different fluctuating priorities.

Here are the types of todo lists I have in my head at any given moment:

  • The List Of Things Stopping My Team From Moving Forward Todo List

    • Make a decision related to a new product

    • Someone asked me a question and I need to get back to them

    • Come up with list of marketing ideas

  • The List Of Things Stopping My Family From Moving Forward Todo List

    • Change my son’s diaper

    • Get food ready for the next meal

    • Take the trash out

    • Clean the fridge out

    • Go grocery shopping

    • Do my wife’s laundry

    • Check on finances

  • The List Of Things Stopping Me From Moving Forward Todo List

    • Work out

    • Eat

    • Relax with a TV show or book

    • Take a shower

  • The List Of Things That If I Did Them It Would Probably Lead To Valuable Opportunities Todo List

    • Writing a new newsletter or essay

    • Participating on Twitter or LinkedIn

    • Making a new YouTube video

    • Talking to someone interesting

  • The List Of Things That If I Did Them It Would Probably Make My Family Happier Todo List

    • Plan a min vacation

    • Get a new fence in the backyard because the current one is falling apart

A lot of the items on my list don’t have to be done by me, but they are. And the most time intensive ones are the ones that repeat on a daily or multi-day basis. Figuring out food and daily chores takes a lot of time away from places I can be more productive and useful like growing the business. This means things like planning mini vacations and replacing the fence don’t even happen.

But what if an autonomous agent could help me with this?

I would pay for it in a heartbeat.

Sure, it won’t be able to help me with everything, but it could help me with a lot.

Imagine if an autonomous agent could have the following:

  • Access to contact information for my gardeners (they come once a week), my cleaning service (they are not setup to come on a regular basis, maybe they have come over once in the past 6 months), and my handyman.

  • Photos of the inside and outside of my house and car.

  • Access to my address, utilities, service providers, and bills.

  • Websites to hire specific services like taskrabbit, Yelp, Thumbtack, Uber, Grubhub, etc.

  • Ability to have real time conversations on the phone, text, and email.

Now imagine I could text with this autonomous agent or call them whenever I need anything. I would even love to have a standing 1-1 every week where I just give them a download of all the things I’m thinking, how the last week went, and whats coming up next week and in the future.

Here are examples of how this autonomous agent can help me:

  • Figuring out what my wife and I should eat every day is a huge pain. We have a baby so there is a lot going on. Sometimes I can cook, sometimes I can’t. Sometimes the food goes bad in the fridge, sometimes I have no idea what we should eat. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I get bored of ordering from the same place too many times. If an autonomous agent could figure out recipes, order the groceries, schedule time on my calendar to prep and cook, order takeout, and make reservations out once in a while, that would change my life.

  • The fence in the backyard is falling apart. We moved into a new place a year ago in preparation for the baby but we never got the fence fixed. Now it is summer and I’d love for us to spend more time in the backyard but I hate looking at the fence. I wish an autonomous agent could make a list of contractors, contact them all for quotes, talk to my gardener and get a quote from them, compare, and bring me back a recommendation. If I say yes then the AI selects the best option, books them, and maybe even schedules a fun out of the house activity for my wife son and I so we don’t have to listen to construction while it is happening.

There are a million things the autonomous agent could help me with, and these are all specifically non work related tasks that would allow me to spend more of my working time working on business and not household operations. So I wouldn’t be working more I would be working smarter.

If you started to look at how an autonomous agent could then help me purely with work, there are a million other things it could help me optimize.

And that is true for any profession, no matter how technical or non technical the job is.

The technology to power autonomous agents exists, it just hasn’t been verticalized and honed.

And the demand is there. It is everywhere.

Lots of demand per person + Lots of people with demands + good enough technology exists = Real market opportunity for autonomous agents

So, while autonomous agents are not great today, I strongly believe they will change the world by bringing cost effective optimizations to every household and profession.

If you are working on this I would love to hear from you, and maybe even invest.

New to autonomous agents? Start here:

Please reach out on email (matt at mattprd dot com) or DM me on Twitter @MattPRD if you want to chat.

Talk to you all soon!