Welcome to RPA 102, an extension of our introduction to Software Bots, and I’m excited that you’re still here! Let’s recap our first session; we did an exercise – to think of a simple, boring task that we do every day but from which we do not learn anything new.
Now it’d be awesome to have a robot do that for us, won’t it? Although, before we start building them, let’s learn to think like a Robot!
At the risk of sounding repetitive (just like the mundane RPA robots), I would like to emphasise that the aim of this blog is to help you understand and build RPA robots that can bring you some value.
This is not an attempt to make you an RPA developer. (Unless you seek that, in which case, drop a comment below and we’ll hook you up with the right resources and help). It’s also not aimed at teaching you any programming language. The aim is to simply equip you with the toolkit you need to build your own robots and work efficiently!
How does a robot think?
In order for us to learn to think like a robot, naturally, we need to understand how robots think. A software robot is just a program, which means it understands instructions given through computer software a.k.a. a programming language.
Whether the person giving these instructions writes lines of code or uses more basic controls, it still means that the computer is conveying these instructions to the robot through a language that it understands.
A few examples of user instructions:
- Lines of code executed by a programmer.
- Use of a mouse and keyboard by a user.
- Every time you copy-paste data between two Excel spreadsheets, the computer tells the Excel software how to read the Control-C and Control-V key combos.
- Computer games, video games
- All your killing sprees in PUBG and those mean drifts in the latest version of Need for Speed, it’s all thanks to how your computer informs the software what to do and precisely when to do it.
Logic: The Universal Language
If you have ever had the pleasure of driving behind a funny truck caption like this, you might agree that merely putting words together does not make language work. There needs to be a system around what works and what doesn’t. (By the way, the truck’s message is urging the reader to use ‘dipper’ i.e. Low Beam when driving at night).
There are several important factors that make any language work. The two that I want to discuss are grammar and semantics. Grammar is a set of rules for everyone’s benefit. As long as everyone speaks with the same rules, language works. Semantics, more interestingly, is the need to make sense; or convey meaning through whatever is being said.
Simply put, if I say something like “It’s pouring cats and dogs today because I had pizza for breakfast.”, it’s not grammatically incorrect. That won’t stop you from smacking me in the head for being stupid. Ipso facto, Semantics is as important as grammar.
Logic in Programming Languages
When we change our context to programming languages, Grammar becomes Syntax, and Semantics becomes Logic. If I send a well-written instruction to my computer program (i.e. correct syntax) but it makes no sense (i.e. the logic is all goofed up) then my program won’t give me the outcome I need.
Just like I need to be logical in my food-based weather theories to be socially acceptable, the software robots need their code (meaning their orders) to have solid logic in order to understand what we want them to do.
On this blog, you will see more content focused on logic and how to see things from a robot’s point of view. I believe breaking down the alien technical jargon into simple human-speak is the best way to learn. This will help you build smarter robots, more easily and rapidly. Once you learn to think like a robot, they understand you more clearly and perform better for you.