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Pros and Cons of Automation

Today I’m going to discuss the Pros and Cons of Automation, from my own personal experiences.

First, what do I mean by Automation?

My definition of Automation is:  the use of technology to substantially increase accuracy, decrease the process time for the given task and at the same time having no human involvement needed to perform the task.

The way that automation does this is by enabling a business to take a current product and make it cheaper than what the competition can make it for thru both increased efficiency (enabling reduced production time by a significant factor), and in the elimination) of the need for human capital to be involved in the process.



The Pros of Automation – My Automation Experience

While my day job isn’t really to automate things at where I work at, I usually see ways to automate processes at work that others.  For example, I’ve taken a process that use to take about two days (16 hours) to complete, and reduced the execution time for the person involved in that process down to 5 seconds (I’ve timed it over 5 samples, and even the 5 second number is conservative, usually it takes 3 seconds).  This particular task could be totally automated, but the management team of the business process still wanted to be in control of the process, so it’s not “totally” automated, but it can and probably should be.

Another example is that I had a friend at work that had a task that took between 30 minutes to an hour each and every day.  I examined the task and told her that I could totally automate the task and even have a confirmation of completion, and a summary of what was updated emailed to her afterwards.  While 2 1/2 to 5 hours per week doesn’t seem like much, it was great for her since she hated the mundane task and even inputted improper numbers as she tabulated the end results.  So now she no longer has to do a task that she dreads, and the accuracy has been dramatically improved!

Based on my experience, automation is a huge win for businesses since such automated systems are much cheaper than employing a human to do the process.  Automation is also great for repetitive tasks that are tedious and painful to perform for individuals.

List of the Cons of Automation

The worst thing about Automation is the job loss for individuals!  Over the years, I’m sure I created enough automated solutions that I prevented someone from being hired to do work in my company.

    • Reduced need for human capital.  Automation also makes unemployment a huge battle for society in general.
    • Reduced tax stream for government (all types, federal, local and city).  The government losses tax revenue on robots and automated computer programs because they don’t pay taxes and anything else for that matter;
    • Automation adds to wealth inequality that’s already too prevalent in the world.
    • If the task being replaced is not documented, once the task is automated, it’s the only way that the task can be done.

Most of the typical automation has been with automated computer programs, but expect more machinery and robots do more and more of the tasks that humans use to sole do.  Even law and medicine areas can be replaced (google has a car that can almost drive itself)!  It will be interesting to see the way the evolution of 3D printers and automation interact together in the future.  Who know, once a item in inventory sells, it might be instantly replaced by some automated 3D printer process without human involvement.

I think we are seeing the effects of automation already, possibly automation along with offshore job migrations could be the reasons unemployment is always kind of on the high side in the united states.

For better or worse, pro or con is a matter of opinion and if you own the business or work for the business.




13 Responses to Pros and Cons of Automation

  1. I think automation will do some great things for our society. Yes it will take away a lot of jobs and we will have to find new ways of running our society in order to keep suffering down and increase the quality of life for everyone, but it will free people up to do better greater things with their lives. Instead of doing boring mundane tasks people can explore the arts, spend more time with loved ones, and do the things that make their life worth living.

    Figuring out how to make it work will be hard and take a lot of work, but it will be worth it in the end.

    • Hi Levi,

      I remember reading in History class that the same “freeing up time to do incredible things” would happen when the work week was reduced from 13 hours a day to 8 hours. The believe was that everybody would learn to play things like the violin and other incredible feats. I bet that it would have been predicted that instead everybody just watches TV or plays video games (at least in my area).

      If everything is automated or computerized (and practically everything could), then our entire currency system will have to change. The current monetary system will be invalid if their is 40, 60 or 80 percent unemployment. Also, there probably will be a harmful adjustment period to get to the new replacement for the monetary system.

      As a small scale creator of automation, it’s very cool, but from a person looking at the effects on society, it’s worrisome. I can definitely see automation truly making the rich richer, and the poor poorer. Perhaps even worse than the wealth inequality of the feudal system of yesteryear.

      Of course I don’t know how the game will play out, but I think it’s good to prepare now instead of watching “The Kardashians” on TV…

      Thanks for commenting, if readers think through and comment about automation, it enabled people to focus on creating a personal finance plan for the future, if needed.

      • I agree with you. I don’t really see a problem with watching TV or playing video games if that is something someone really wants to do with their life. Over doing it can leave to addiction which is never good.

        I would also say that we have more people now playing the violin on a higher level than in the past. I go to a music university so I might be seeing a bias sample though.

        • Hmmm, good point on the violin.

          While I don’t know anybody that plays it, the number of those playing the violin could have well increased. That would be an interesting statistic to know.

  2. Automation is definitely a great thing when it comes to growing and scaling your business. The thing that you have to take for granted though is the fact that something can go wrong if you aren’t paying attention to any system or technology that you may have in place.

  3. working in IT– i have made a career out of automation. if i have to do something more than once, you better believe that i am going to find a way for it to be done easier, and preferably, fully automated. that type of mindset does wonders for someone in my industry..

    however, big picture — you do make some good points. i do worry about our greater workforce going forward, as all automation eventually leads to less of a need for humans to have jobs to fill the gaps.

    • Hi jefferson!

      I’m similar in that I don’t like to do stuff over and over again either. In fact, any repetition that I have at work that can be automated, it is. It’s great and it’s a fun puzzle that keeps giving.

      I’ve also noticed that people take my stuff for granted, and forget that I was the one that automated the process. It’s kind of funny actually, and makes me wonder if some of the former bosses were twits…

      I’ve see a lot of positions at work weeded out, especially on the operations side of things and 2nd and 3rd shifts.

      Traditionally, the change has been slow, but I can see it speeding up as computers and robotics become more and more powerful. Not to mention cloud technology and stuff like 3d printing.

      While I don’t believe in keeping a job as a human task because it keeps someone employed, I do think we need to think about a lot of things as society. If the easy jobs can be automated, then unemployment will keep climbing higher and higher. No easy answers.