Automation: The myth of replacement - Jidoka


Automation: The myth of replacement

Automatización: el mito de la sustitución
24 September, 2015

More and more frequently we come across news or articles that alert us to how soon robots are going to wipe out the job force as we know it.

Celebrities from the world of science and technology such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have warned of the impact that automation and artificial intelligence are having on the world of work, raising all sorts of fears about job loss. The BBC itself provides us with a tool to measure whether our profession is exposed to “robotization”.

But is this totally pessimistic view of automation justified?

Recently, the British daily newspaper The Guardian published an interview entitled “Will robots create more jobs than they destroy? “. In it, writer Martin Ford, author of the book “The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment“, pointed out that the problem is largely determined by the type of work being done: “The reality is that a large percentage of our workforce is engaged in activities of a high routine, repetitive and predictable level. […] Most workers face the same kinds of challenges over and over again, with most of their actions and decisions being predictable based on how they have resolved those tasks before.

This type of rule-based tasks is ideal for candidates to be automated by software robots such as Jidoka’s.

It’s not about replacing people with robots and thinking that everything remains the same.

In an interview made by IRPA – Institute for Robotic Process Automation, the author of the best-seller “The Glass Cage: Automation and us“, Nicholas Carr, refers to the “replacement myth” and the misinterpretation that many are making of the automation phenomenon.

For Carr, the myth lies in the idea of a replacement for use, machine by a human.

“If you study automation cases you see repeatedly that when you automate a task or part of a process, it changes completely. It is then that human experience intervenes to decide “how we can do this in a totally different way to make it better”. It is not a matter of throwing everything into a computer and thinking that everything remains the same. Everything tends to change.

Before introducing an automation strategy, we need to analyze the process in depth and answer different questions. Many companies are falling into the trap of assuming that this technology will solve all problems by magic and do not stop to think about how to design the process in order to have a correct division of labor between human and robot.

The near future will be dominated by robot/human collaboration.

Recent studies such as “The Future of Employment, 2025: Working Side-By-Side with Robots,” published by Forrester and signed by JP Gonwder, predict that automation technologies will replace humans in 16% of jobs, but as a result of their use 9% of new jobs will originate. These jobs will emerge from the direct relationship between humans and robots, such as the development, maintenance, and analysis of automated solutions.

Spain is no stranger to the subject and in recent times the main references in communication and technology have expressed their opinion on the myth of replacement.

Enrique Dans, a professor at IE Business School, in his post “Your work and man-machine substitution” argues that the phenomenon goes beyond simple substitution, providing an improvement in performance, efficiency, reliability, and results. That it is a matter of time before the tasks we entrust to humans succumb to the superior processing power of robots. However, he adds that it is not a question of running away from machines as if they were some kind of enemy, but simply of accepting this new scenario and learning to live in it.

For his part, Fernando Gallardo, journalist, and analyst of trends and new concepts in tourism is convinced that Big Data and robotics “have not been designed to go against, but in favor of man, his shortcomings and his weaknesses. It reminds us of the case of supercomputers such as Deep Blue and Watson, which some thought was a serious threat to man, but which today are of great help in very diverse areas such as, for example, the diagnosis of cancer.

Experts agree that we are witnessing a transformation of work as we know it. However, there is a notable disparity of opinions, so the debate is well attended.

And what is our opinion?

At Jidoka we are convinced that the success of an automated solution based on software robots depends on correct supervision and human management. Technologies such as RPA (Robotic Process Automation) were created with the aim of revolutionizing work, but always in favor of the most important “resource” of companies: human resources, i.e. people. The near future will be marked by robot/human cowork and the companies that know how to make the most of this relationship will be those that will obtain a clear competitive advantage.

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