Automation : The Forest
Automation is "the creation and application of technology to monitor and control the production and delivery of products and services”; as defined by the International Society of Automation (ISA) . Automation has affected multiple dimensions of human life in a positive way. Ever since, Ford Motors introduced automated workflow for their production units, automation has been used in multiple applications. Automation has reached out its arms, as long as possible, for making human lives easier and more efficient. A lot has been done and written about automation. However, most of what is written still seems untranslatable to the general crowd. With this article, I attempt to make the vision of automation clearer to the said crowd. To make any complicated topic interesting and understandable, drawing parallels between such topics and some commonly understood concepts is conventional. The use of analogies to explain complex topics will be done here too. Since, automation is complex, surrounded with mysteries, unfathomed and supposedly dangerous. Comparing automation with a forest may help the reader paint a vivid picture about automation in their mind. Very first thing needed to be understood about automation is the immense variety of applications possible. Use of automation can be done in injury-prone places such as assembly lines of heavy machinery, where humans can now be replaced with robotic arms. It can also be used to ease some of the simplest yet tiring processes in human life, such as cash withdrawal. Standing in queues in front of bank’s teller windows for hours has now been replaced, as cash can now be withdrawn in minutes from automated teller machines (ATMs). The broad range of variety in automation can be compared with that found in forests. Since, forests have huge diversity in almost everything. Be it the type of creatures, forests have the most venomous and intimidating to the most harmless and beautiful creatures. The type of plant life could vary from short lived seasonal plants to centuries old and several hundred feet high tress. By this analogy, the complexity of existing and possible range of applications of automation could be made understood to the reader. Among the existing range of automation, the simplicity and complexity has been spoken of earlier in this paragraph. However, the possible range of automation, which may come to reality in future, may seem odd or even bizarre at first. In the near future, automated systems are going to change the way we use piggybanks, grow plants in backyard, do plumbing and watch over the grill . In a nutshell, automation is going to make deeper inroads into human life. Just as whenever something new is discovered in the depths of forest, newer forms of automated systems may arouse curiosity or even create a short term panic. General public either accepts such discoveries made in forests for their utility in human life, or they just come to terms with the uniqueness of its existence. I presume, the general public’s response to newer forms of automation is going to be on a similar note. A very common narrative about automation is that it is going to make more and more humans jobless. Just as any rich and diverse forest can’t avoid presenting the world with some of the most poisonous mushrooms and plants, automation also presents the world with a set of potential harms. With exponential efforts being made by corporations to automate industrial as well as non-industrial processes, there is almost a mass panic over humans losing their jobs. Even industries such as IT, where no assembly lines are needed, panic switches are being pressed to make employees aware of the impending layoffs due to automation and digitization . To conclude, it is necessary to emphasize the optimistic and bright possibilities which can arise from automation. According to the author, automation is not merely a means of cutting costs for major corporations, rather it has a higher purpose. Automation relieves humans from petty tasks which can be done otherwise by automatons. Humans freed from doing menial tasks can pursue the real purposes meant for a human life. They can explore, create, invent and inspire. Even if they chose to not pursue the aforementioned endeavours, humans can atleast lead a life free from mental afflictions caused by stresses of industrial society. Humans can focus towards caring for each other and building a calmer world. Overall it can be said, that automation is precious for humanity. Howsoever complex, intimidating and hard to understand it may be, automation, just like the forest is full of gifts and must be cherished.