A lot of us today believe that automation is an almost faultless technology that can only do wonders in various areas of its application. But this is far from reality. While there are a lot of positive contributions of automation technology in different facets of our life, it should not be considered as a perfect technology. In fact, one of the limits of automation is that even with the advent of the high end tech, it is still unable to automate all the desired tasks. Factories, mines and other processing plants still employ human workforce in key aspect of plant operations, in order to fulfill the areas where automation cannot perform. Another thing that discourages companies from going full automation is that it requires a large amount of investment capital. It won’t be easy on the investor’s pockets to completely shift to automated system without financial preparation.
But failure to fully automate every task and financial investments are not the only disadvantages of this technology. Because large factory production relies on sturdy machineries and complex systems, a break to an intricate part of the system could mean large-scale delay in production, and not to mention the hefty cost of repairs and lags.
Diminishing returns can also happen from industrial automatizing because less and less labor will be saved as the process involved in production becomes highly automatized. The improvement of the quality of the goods will also reach its peak and the returns of good production lowers in time. There also lies the threat of exhaustion of opportunities as humans begin to rely more on automated systems.
And though many companies will aspire for a fully automated industrial process, its current limit just makes it not feasible for every industry to employ it. This is because there are human roles which machines have not yet surpassed such as in pattern recognition, language comprehension and language production ability. Even the capabilities of modern mechanical and computer systems were not able to better human expertise in this avenues. This is because there is a limit to the subjective assessment of complex data by computers. To exemplify clearly, machines cannot smell scents, and it is limited in its strategic planning capacities. In these scenarios, employing human workforce is proven to be more cost-efficient than going for a full automation approach.
But it does not end there. There is also a paradox in automated technology because as experts have observed the more efficient the automated system evolves, the more crucial and critical the human contribution would be. Though there is lesser actual involvement in the industrial labor, but human intervention in a required field becomes more essential.
There is also a danger in full automation because ones the system catches an error, it will multiply its errors until it is managed or if not, it will fail completely. There is a popular case of an aviation automation mishap that led to a disaster when automation failure occurred during a flight and pilots were not trained for a manual situation.
In conclusion, while automation should be encouraged to facilitate the higher demand for goods and services, strict human monitoring and system study should still be performed in order to avoid automation-failure-related catastrophes. There are real dangers in the employment of automation system and this should not be disregarded if we want to truly uphold a safe work environment.