AI automation

Winkletter  •  17 Mar 2023   •    

Before I became enamored with all things AI, I spent a lot of time learning about robotic process automation. And while I found it helpful with my day-to-day work or with one-off problems, I concluded that using RPA to automate a process for a group of workers would probably always lead to a critical fail that would require the help of an engineer to fix.

It’s hard enough to automate processes with standardized data like EDI transmissions and APIs. Trying to automate interactions with a web or software interface can be hard to set up and is easily broken.

It’s like trying to teach someone the perfect bat swing. (It only works with the perfect pitch.)

With AI in the mix, we’re going to start seeing some truly groundbreaking automation. First of all, the standard RPA is going to be much easier to implement. Here’s an example from this morning that took ChatGPT 1 minute to code.

ME: Hello, I’m using AutoHotKey on my home PC. Can you write an AutoHotKey script that will trigger when I press CTRL+ALT+T that will check if I have a number in my clipboard that looks like a USPS, UPS, or FedEx Tracking number, and then look up that tracking number at the appropriate site using the Chrome browser?

; AutoHotKey script for opening tracking numbers in Chrome

^!t:: ; CTRL+ALT+T hotkey
    ; Check if there's a valid tracking number in the clipboard
    clipboard = %clipboard%
    trackingNumber := clipboard
    trackingURL := ""

    ; USPS tracking number
    if (RegExMatch(trackingNumber, "^(94\d{20})$") or RegExMatch(trackingNumber, "^(7\d{19})$") or RegExMatch(trackingNumber, "^(92\d{20}|92\d{24})$")) {
        trackingURL := "" . trackingNumber
    ; UPS tracking number
    else if (RegExMatch(trackingNumber, "^(1Z[0-9A-Z]{16})$")) {
        trackingURL := "" . trackingNumber
    ; FedEx tracking number
    else if (RegExMatch(trackingNumber, "^\d{12}$") or RegExMatch(trackingNumber, "^\d{15}$")) {
        trackingURL := "" . trackingNumber
    else {
        MsgBox, 48, Error, No valid tracking number found in clipboard.

    ; Open the tracking URL in Chrome
    chromePath := "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"
    if !FileExist(chromePath)
        chromePath := "C:\Program Files\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"

    if FileExist(chromePath) {
        Run, %chromePath% --new-window %trackingURL%
    } else {
        MsgBox, 48, Error, Google Chrome not found. Please make sure it's installed on your computer.


It would have taken me half the afternoon to remember how to use AutoHotKey, and work out how to do this. And I wouldn’t have bothered with all the nice error messages and comments either. Just figuring out all the different tracking number formats would have left me pulling out my hair.

In fact, the script above is an edited version. I found a USPS tracking format that didn’t quite work with the original script, but after a few questions back and forth, we had it fixed with an updated regex.

But, not only will AI make it easier to create and update automation software, it won’t be long before AI text and image tools are part of the process and then things will get interesting.

  • Reading data from a website even if the layout changes
  • Extracting data from images
  • Anticipating errors and edge cases
  • AI writing code that uses AI

I’ve already seen someone scraping titles of popular AI books from trending tweets, writing articles and creating videos on those books, then linking back to the books on Amazon with an affiliate link. Not only is this process automated, but he used ChatGPT to set the entire system up.

The promise of easy automation is finally paying off.


EDI transactions and RPA BOTS, now you’re speaking my language. It will be interesting to see how long it takes my client to start incorporating AI with existing solutions. I think AI is great for people already “in the know.” I see these examples and feel I still need someone between ChatGPT and me to assist.

therealbrandonwilson  •  18 Mar 2023, 1:09 pm

@therealbrandonwilson It definitely helps to have some basic knowledge to know what to ask for and how to implement it. I just checked and it is possible enter a job description into ChatGPT and ask what parts it can automate and how.

Winkletter  •  18 Mar 2023, 4:51 pm

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