Automation plays a very important role in a smart home. If I want something to happen consistently on a predictable schedule, or a particular event (like movement) to always trigger a particular response (like switching on a hall light), then I’ll automate it. But manually triggered scenes are more appropriate for some things, and individually controlled devices better for others. It’s all about having the right mix.
I’ve found that taking the initial dive into home automation is like entering a wilderness of true automation, manual automation, and inconvenient smart-home gimmicks. If you stick with it for long enough to eliminate the inconvenient gimmicks, what you’re left with is a constant struggle between true automation and manual automation.
I sympathize with Ben in his dream of our homes responding to every nuanced action, like having the reading light turn on at the specific seat you’re in, but only if you’re holding a book. Until then, every smart home will remain a variable mix of true automation and manual automation that’s determined by each individuals home-life.