Somewhere in between the inception of modern computers and the current day, the aim of computer technology changed from "Let's accomplish tasks using the computer" to "Let's help people accomplish tasks when they use the computer." This isn't necessarily a bad thing--a human-centric view of computing is probably the best way of looking at the interaction
between a computer and its user, but for the most part, the average computer user has lost the ability to get tasks done on a computer without having to use it at all. I doubt anyone can pinpoint when and how this exactly happened (I might point the finger to someone somewhere in the Pacific Northwest), but most commercial software out there doesn't really have the ability to perform tasks without extensive user input.
The main exception in software, however, can be found in the Open Source/Free Software movements. While many say that an operating system like Linux lacks the bells and whistles of Microsoft Windows, having software which can reliably perform repetitive and labor-intensive tasks (say, like mirroring every file on a site like this
) in my opinion, gives me a far better resource than watching an animated icon of a piece of paper travel into a picture of a recycle bin.