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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.