Smart contracts are just ahead of the times.
In the example that @jb455 gives where you pay someone to mow your lawn you are trusting them to do it and you can set up a contract that pays them weekly, or whatever according to what you agree, if say you leave the country for 2 years and expect the maintenance to continue while you are gone then you might find yourself in a pickle where you pay someone that has no oversight and they neglect their duty and you come home to find your garden gnome lost in a forest of tumble weed’s (or what have you).
Looking to the future… A lawn will be easy to write a contract for if you have the technology that monitors the health of your lawn (which I have read about but am unable to find it again), so the smart contract is tied to the tech that monitors your property and there is no reason to trust anything but code if all is set in place right - the sensors detect a healthy property and the caretaker is paid without the need to trust a 3rd party (human party).
With that said obviously writing a smart contract in these times for a lawn service would not be the best idea (if the aim is to leave out a 3rd party) unless you have the technology to monitor your lawn.
In the construction industry - I can see where smart contracts can be used now to protect contractors, I have been involved in a project where the contractor I worked for had contracted to complete the project from the ground up - Civil - Excavation - Mechanical - Electrical, the civil work was supposed to be paid for before the mechanical began, certain permits have to be signed by municipal authorities before mechanical can begin on the completed civil work, because the contractor held both stages of the contract they had to continue to work on the mechanical and electrical before they began to be paid for the civil even though the contract detailed the civil would be paid for before mechanical began (grapevine information, but happens often), without being paid for work that had been done and signed off on, the contractor had to invest in the next stage of the construction cause of the trust they put in the investor and the contract they signed, at a certain point of not receiving payment the contractor stopped work on everything, if everything had been done in a smart contract there would have been no reason to trust a paper contract or investors that claimed they would pay for the construction, the investment funds could have been tied to the contract and the contractor could have cut their losses significantly rather than having someone base their non-payment argument on certain points that had nothing to do with the contractor.
Smart contracts are not as dumb as the Medium writer would have someone believe, the writer simply must not understand how they could protect someone, it may be that the Medium writer just cannot fathom the millions of dollars people lose when trusting paper contracts that take years to resolve in a court of law, which if you take a 10 million dollar loan out to do a construction job, what does that end up costing you in a 7 year lawsuit monthly??? (and that is just a hypothetical number, I have seen a 300 million dollar project that would be best served by a smart contract).
It may be that most smart contracts are not smart, but there is no reason that smart contracts could not be well written and super complicated with several facets that allow for multiple parties to stall or allow them to function, what is available now seems to only allow one input and in my mind there is no possible way that something similar to 2fa could not be possible - yet I am not familiar with coding so maybe I am just wishing for a multi faceted smart contract - LOOK — we have Ouroboros!! Why cannot that be applied to a smart contract?? It can, and I expect that everything shelley brings will be dialed into smart contracts that require the same type of consensus, but on a smaller scale.
Enough of my rambling, it is my weekend on days off, I just think that a well written article might not have been written from experience but from an outside look that has no idea of what kind of protection a smart contract could actually afford someone.