Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Automation, Master or Slave?

This morning, as I was praying, I suddenly have a brief flashback, or something that happened last week.

I recalled that in a conference, which I was attending about Enterprise Resource Planning, a speaker was quoted: The program is like that, it is pure automation, and we have no choice.

The word "no choice", have led me to think of one think. Is automation, becoming our way of live, and we are slowly being controlled by it?

In all my life playing with automation, I believe on one thing. That is "I control the machine, the machine does not control me" Yet, in 2004, I suffered my first defeat by one machine. It is a 2.5 by 2 meter machine.

Automation is fast becoming important with the advancement of microchips. They are the foundation of the automation in all field. Be it industrial, food & beverages, or commercial. Communicate in IOs, with these two letters they speak and with just these 2 letters, they can do a lot of wonderful and sophiscated things.

As they are becoming an apple of an eye to the budget tight managers, humans job are gradually replaced, and unless they learnt the way to learn new language, they will not have a stable job. But as humans learnt and improve the automation, automation evolves yet again to a more advance stage. The processors that make another processor, is usually slower than the one created. This is what I noticed in one manufacturing plant I worked before. And when the lifetime is almost up, the machine was sent back, and given an upgrade, so they run smoother, and faster than before.

Automation not only exist in machines, they also exist in cyberspace. Many programmes, loams in cyberspace, and insearch of new programs. One of the most popular is the spider program. It lurks around the cyberspace, and when a new website is created, this program will capture some of the keyword, and report back to the appendation software, which modify another programs.

In commercial automation, software engineers creates software, to track stocks, and purchases. By doing so, anything cannot be leaks out of a commercial budget. It leads to higher profit, and lower losses. There is a catch, however, and that is, if there is a screw, that cost $0.15, and the customer does not want to pays for it, or the receipt was lost, who is going to bear the selling cost, and how is it going to be accounted for. For every assemblies, out of nowhere, there will be surplus screws after assembly. Who is going to pay, and how is it going to be accounted for the surplus screws?

In another scenario, If a screw, is first purchased as galvanised steel, and after installation, It is found that the screw needs to be stainless steel, because of some unforseen circumstances, who is going to pay for the difference in amount?

In the end, we will be controlled by automation one day, and we are the zombie, doing things that the machines plans for us(I am refering to PDAs). Perhaps, that will be the age of the Matrix.
Maybe, there is a way to get rid of automation, that is just to pull the plug and hide it away. But after we pull the plug, we may began to wonder how to live the way of life......
Televisions, a very simple tool, have made humans became a crouch potato. That is what is happening. bosses are beginning to stay in the office all days, watching stocks and news. Some even take a peek into casino on the internet.
While the sobordinates are slaving their ways away, bosses are buying more sophiscated equipment to entertain themselves, and this have happened in one of the place where I used to work in. The Head of Department, furnish the boss office, as if it is a villa. While he scrap and save every single penny, he buy low graded equipments, and withhold money. Subordinates have to buy their own spares, and tools, and eventually, the morale is dropped, and many good talents are wasted away.
I was reading the "SUCCESS" section of the TODAY newspaper on 20th November, page 23.I think John Alexander, president of Center for Creative Leadership spoke wise. He mentioned that "The Higher a person goes up in a company, the more he tends to get cut off from what's happening at the ground level. It is not becasue they are not interested. They simply don't have the time to deal with. Employee engagement is not a top priority for many. We've seen chief executive officers all over the world get into trouble because they were not paying attention to people who were trying to tell them things. It just takes a while to listen - and that effort will make you a much better leader to your colleagues."


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