Automation: The Last Tech Revolution

Your alarm wakes you up, your coffee maker has already made your morning brew, your fitness monitor tracks the steps you’re taking, you grudgingly know your phone will remind you about your morning meeting, your traffic alerts flow in the minute you start your car (bonus points if it’s a Tesla), your car pool is now an Uber pool where software tells a human driver (for now) where to pick up the next passenger, the rest of your day goes around the task of using more technology designed to make you do as less as possible.

Automation. It’s the last technological revolution slowly moving us towards a passive society.

But if nobody is doing anything? What will they be doing?

Let’s take a look at a few industries and how they’re using automation in tasks as a supplement to their human resource rather than shifting completely to a software resource work environment.

Agriculture

Perhaps the most important industry on the planet. Without it, we’d all be back to hunting with spears in no time, or die.

drone-farm
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Farmers are increasingly using technology to automate their feed cycles, monitor their connected tractors, sense optimal animal mating times, map their farms with drones and even use sensor enabled harvesters that pick fruit at the precise time to optimize shelf life and freshness.

Some companies that are allowing farming to rely less on the human touch are:

  • SenseFly makes a drone that flies over a farm on routes to monitor and relay live data.
  • Anemon send an update to farmers when their cows are ready to be inseminated.
  • Energid has a robot that senses and picks up ripe fruit.

The industry is still experimenting with technology and these are very early stages. By the time technology truly starts making an impact in this sector we’ll be dealing with a whole different spectrum of innovations tailor built to make sure that humanity is fed.

Retail, Food Service

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Image via

Supermarkets have been using self checkout counters for a few years now. It was only a matter of time before you started interacting with many more touchscreens for everyday tasks.

McDonald’s has been implementing order kiosks, instead of employing cashiers. Though this requires all customers walking in to have a credit/debit card handy. You can already scan bar codes of retail items in various stores to know the price, very soon you can expect the entire process of stocking, purchase and maybe even returns being handled by software and robots, running software.

Other consumer verticals that have started using touch screen based kiosks are entertainment (dvd rentals + ticket counters), vending machines and banking.

For now, I guess they’ll still need someone to clean up the spill in aisle 3, or fold all those t-shirts in the kids department. I know, I used to work retail…shudder.

Workforce

This is perhaps the last frontier in the defense against automation. The workforce area is perhaps the most complex area for the concept of automation to ever get a foothold in. But that won’t stop people from trying, will it? Yay, capitalism!?

Office jobs already have a slew of tools at their disposal to make their work easier. But what it can’t ever replace is the need for all of that e-paper work to actually be scrutinized, checked and corrected. A machine can’t tell the difference between right and wrong, the letter of the law, what was actually said and what was actually meant. In some areas, like banking, software does most of the mathematical calculations but those calculations again depend on someone actually putting the data points in.

As long as A.I (artificial intelligence) does not become common place you’ll be happy to hear you still have to come in to work on Monday.

Industry

One of the most prolific areas where automation has not just become the norm but perhaps leads the way in innovation. Who wouldn’t want to have a faster processing unit, a more efficient way to manufacture the nuts and bolts that seem to hold everything together around us?

If it was the discovery of industry that led to the revolutions in automation around us, there’s no doubt it will be industry again that shows us how to get things done faster and better, while saving costs.

In one such example Amazon.com, even though we only see a website, it actually relies very heavily on industries like transportation, storage and logistics to keep it ticking. One way it’s trying to make headway is by experimenting with drones for delivery. Even though it seems like something out of a science fiction novel, those days are not far away.

Here’s a video it released some time back around that:

The Future after the revolution

I don’t see this revolution ever ending. It’s going to be an endless battle against oneself to try and make things better, faster, flashier and more ‘cool’.

Our drive to pursue greatness is perhaps our biggest weakness,
because we just can’t seem to be content.

– You can quote me on that.

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3 thoughts on “Automation: The Last Tech Revolution

  1. Hello, found this article from reddit r/artificial. I especially liked the section on Agriculture, I didn’t know about many of those technologies.

    One thing I think this article is missing is the massive changes that have already come and are coming to the ‘Workforce’ section. AI has already replaced a tremendous number of legal researchers, sports columnists, medical billing professionals, meanwhile medical research, medical diagnosis, and a wide variety of planning applications are under development. These jobs may not be as safe as your propose!

  2. Josh, it’s true that a lot has already happened. But the fact is that hiring is still happening there, so the process to shift to a fully automated workforce is still not complete and won’t be for quite some time to come.

    The day that companies start implementing automated processes with the sole intention of it acting autonomously is the one a lot of people need to worry about.

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