What you should know about automation

Robots and electronic design automation are just some of the technologies that will make manufacturing and design more productive, efficient and accurate, but it all depends on your point of view

By Dave Perkon, technical editor

Technology will leave you behind if you try to stop it. I personally have wrote several columns on the subject with the latest titled: Automation for the people. That's you, and you need to automate, including the use of robots and advanced design software. Automation should create new jobs and opportunities not government regulations.

I have read many of the online articles slanted to make automation look bad. Many online articles keep hinting that automation or robots will be replacing personnel in over 50 percent of occupations, some say 70 percent of all occupations. Then to make it even worse, the authors point out that the jobs will be quickly lost. The reality of these anti-automation articles is they exaggerate the story without considering the slow pace of change in the automation industry. Regardless of the actual speed that automation, software and artificial intelligence affects occupations, I can assure you that it will, so plan for that.

If robots are bad, as many of the articles suggest, shouldn't we also be concerned about eCAD software. That's electronic computer-aided design, also called EDA (electronic design automation). Not only are we replacing manufacturing workers with robots, the automation is replacing those who design it as well. And if that happens, the robots and design won't work very well.

For those out there who fear automation and think a safe space is needed to be free of it, you should know, I have been using eCAD for decades as a control system designer, and this helpful software has just made me more efficient by automating many of the tedious tasks and a lot of the calculations and data entry.

eCAD makes me a better controls engineer just as robots make the personnel on the assembly lines better, more efficient and more productive.

An automation-biased professional may argue for taxing and regulating automation, re-distributing the profits due to gains in productivity and many similar story lines, all of which seem to de-capitalize automation.

This won't stop automation. This will slow innovation or cause you to make a living stealing much of the intellectual property in a product and the techniques used to manufacture the product.

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In my mind, regulation or socialism of automation removes the incentive to excel at things, hurting innovation. The benefit of money and goods isn't there.

Merriam-Webster's online definition of socialism is, "any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. It's a system of society or group living in which there is no private property. It may also be a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state."

I wonder if the "state" will let me use eCAD when they find out it makes me a better engineer.

The definition continued in describing, "far more common systems of social democracy, now often referred to as democratic socialism, in which extensive state regulation, with limited state ownership, has been employed by democratically elected governments in the belief that it produces a fair distribution of income without impairing economic growth."

Capitalism according to Merriam-Webster's definition is, "an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market."

Capitalism automatically optimizes automation which creates more money and goods, producing more wealth. This increases production in a fair and open market. The opposite is often said to be socialism, which doesn't encourage wealth, or apparently automation either. Socialism creates public or government ownership and control of parts of the economy where quality often suffers and productivity does not meet the demands. But lets not get bogged down with the Industrial Politics of Things (IPoTs) and what in the future will be Dead-End Jobs (DEJs). Instead, let's automate.

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