Definition and Benefits of Automation
– Automation reduces human intervention in processes
– Decision criteria and actions are predetermined and embodied in machines
– Mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, electronic devices, and computers are used for automation
– Automation improves labor savings and reduces waste
– It also leads to savings in electricity and material costs, and improves quality, accuracy, and precision

Historical Developments in Automation
– Greeks and Arabs had a preoccupation with keeping accurate track of time
– Ctesibius described a float regulator for a water clock in Ptolemaic Egypt
– The appearance of mechanical clocks made water clocks obsolete
– The Banu Musa brothers described automatic controls in their Book of Ingenious Devices
– Feedback control systems were initially designed through trial-and-error
– Steam engines promoted automation through the need for control systems
– Temperature regulators, pressure regulators, and speed control devices were invented
– The first automated loom and punch-card system for looms were developed
– Richard Arkwright invented the first fully automated spinning mill
– Oliver Evans developed the first completely automated industrial process
– Relay logic was introduced with factory electrification
– Central control rooms and on-off process controls were common in the 1920s
– The development of electronic amplifiers and negative feedback contributed to control theory
– German mathematician Irmgard Flügge-Lotz developed the theory of discontinuous automatic control
– Automation in the 20th century saw advancements in instruments, controls, and telephony applications

Significant Applications of Automation
– Introduction of automatic telephone switchboard in 1892
– Development of glass bottle-blowing machine in 1905
– Use of sectional electric drives in steel rolling and paper making
– Armco’s development of continuous wide strip rolling in 1928
– Advocacy for continuous production in the chemical industry in the 1930s
– Automation in manufacturing and assembly processes in various industries such as electrical power generation, oil refining, steel mills, plastics, cement plants, automobile and truck assembly, aircraft production, natural gas separation plants, food and beverage processing, and canning and bottling
– Use of robots in hazardous applications like automobile spray painting and electronic circuit board assembly

Paradox of Automation and Limitations
– The more efficient the automated system, the more crucial the human contribution of the operators
– Human operators are needed to fix errors and prevent them from multiplying in automated systems
– Air France Flight 447 is an example where a failure of automation put the pilots in a manual situation they were not prepared for
– The paradox of automation was identified by Lisanne Bainbridge, a cognitive psychologist
– Current technology is unable to automate all desired tasks
– Malfunctions in automated systems can be extremely costly and hazardous, requiring personnel to ensure proper functioning and safety
– As processes become increasingly automated, the labor and quality improvements become less significant
– The exhaustion of opportunities occurs as more processes become automated, leaving fewer non-automated processes
– New technological paradigms may set new limits that surpass previous ones

Societal Impact and Economic Effects
– Increased automation causes anxiety among workers about job loss
– Historical examples, like the Luddites, show resistance to automation
– Concerns about automation vary depending on the strength of organized labor and the presence of safety nets
– Certain occupations, even highly skilled ones, are at risk of automation
– Studies suggest that automation negatively affects employment and wages
– Retraining workers whose positions are rendered obsolete can mitigate the negative impact of automation
– The impact of automation can be mitigated by focusing on skill development and education
– Automation can lead to cheaper products, lower work hours, and the formation of new industries
– The demand for unskilled human capital declines at a slower rate compared to the demand for skilled human capital
– The long-term effects of automation include lower average work hours and the emergence of robotics, computer, and design industries
– The impact of automation on employment and wages can vary depending on the industry and the level of automationSources: