Automation is commonly thought of as a new technological advancement, yet it has been around for years. The actual word automation in the world of manufacturing was used in 1948 by Ford Motor Company’s Vice President. However, the mention of automation can be seen way before 1948. A spinning wheel driven by water power was first developed in 1771, yet this is still not the first notion of automation. In book one of Homer’s ‘The Iliad’, the story of Hephaestus is told. Since Hephaestus was the Greek god of blacksmiths, he was put in charge of manufacturing weaponry. To accomplish this, he created ‘automatons’, or self-operating machines/robots. Automation in the manufacturing sense has been recognized since the 11th century. Many of the inventions early on in history are not the kind of automation we think of today. In today’s age, automation is directly associated with artificial intelligence and the elimination of jobs.
When it comes to advances in automation, human predictions fall into two categories. Some people say that machines will allow human workers to do higher-value, more creative work. On the other hand, many predict overwhelming unemployment, or a complete robot take over. This pessimistic outlook stems from society’s fixation on short-term economic advances. However, automation has been seen to result in higher compensation for workers. Harvard Business Review argues that automation can substitute for human work, but it has the potential to create new and valuable roles for humans. With this being said, there are currently no regulations concerning the implementation and development of automation.
When it comes to citizen awareness of advancing automation, people are pretty aloof to the development. Software automation for computer operations is simple and common. Most people today own some sort of electronic device which has software embedded in the hard drive. Automating computer operations is more profitable, productive, and reliable. Many of those who own automated devices or use automated systems, do not realize that it is a form of automation. One must understand that elevators, suggested apps, and spell check are all automated programs. It’s not only the general public that is lacking in knowledge. Currently, there is not one sitting politician who is bringing up the issue of automation or the need to regulate.
With the physical benefits of automation being known, what are the moral implications of these advancements? How will the economy and work force shift? What does automation mean for our future?
According to an in class interview, automation seems to hold a dark cloud over our future. Although automating products makes peoples’ lives easier, it comes at a high price. It is predicted that by 2030, 73 million American jobs will be gone. With this job loss the U.S. economy will most likely take a huge dip as well. In addition, many automated products are not being requested by the public. Companies are making more money and promoting the ease of living.
The fast approaching future holds what seems to be an inevitable doom; however, there are two sides to every story. Automation holds many benefits and still has some kinks to work out, however there is still time to further develop.