This seems to me a threat that merits wider discussion than it currently receives, especially when you consider the broader social context of the other life tasks we now delegate to third parties. To use an odd phrase: we live in a world that's in danger of becoming both physically and intellectually obesogenic.
So much nowadays is done for us. Our food shopping is driven to us, our meals are prepared ready for us to eat and Amazon delivers just about everything else. We subcontract our memory to Google, Alexa and our phone. Cars will drive us; we won't drive them. Without our knowledge, the media we consume is individually pre-edited to make it more palatable, personal and "relevant". We are thus spared the responsibility of even deciding relevance for ourselves. If things continue this way, we run the risk of becoming digital equivalents to the slack-jawed, entitled layabouts caricatured in Downton Abbey. A class of people infantilised by a system that operates us more than we operate it.
There is an established, tech-led narrative about the need for seamless, friction-free experiences. And these will remain the gold standard for customer-centric service design. But perhaps in the public domain, and in the broader purposes of the brands we work for, we should consider a counter-narrative. Of building structural (pleasant) inconvenience back into experience – getting people to use their brains as opposed to intellectual delegation, to use the stairs as opposed to the lift, to go off track so that, serendipitously, they can smell the roses they may not otherwise have noticed.
Switched-on brands are, in my view, already on the case. They tend to be the ones who champion big, collective experiences and all the noise, messiness and spilt beer that goes with them. They tend to be the ones with the "chatty aisle", an inefficient checkout where people with time on their hands can check out with garrulous inefficiency.