Does Automation Make Us Dumb?

Imagine trying to mass produce goods without the aid of drives, servomotors, or computer software. It would be impossible for manufacturing to be where it’s at today without industrial automation.

There’s no doubt that automation makes our lives easier. Whether it’s with servo motors, robot butlers, or artificially intelligent computers, automation allows us to do more while doing less. Automation facilitates our own jobs and lives. However, there’s a growing concern that increasingly intelligent computers, robots, software, algorithms, etc. are making our lives too easy — in fact, that computer automation is lowering our intelligence.

These claims aren’t unfounded. We don’t really have to know anything anymore. There was a time when knowing the name of every mountain over 14,000 feet tall was an impressive feat. Now, no one cares whether or not you know how tall mountains are because someone can pull a computer out of their pocket and find a list of elevations in a matter of seconds. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we as a society are doomed to be dumb.

Consider the effect that industrial automation has had on manufacturing. Automation didn’t free up a bunch of time that people then wasted, making them lazy or less skilled. Automation opened doors for new technologies and applications in manufacturing. Those involved in industry didn’t loll around enjoying easier work. They capitalized on what automation provided.

Automation spurs advancement rather than inhibiting intelligence. The benefits that automation produces, and the opportunities that it presents, encourage people to use automation to its fullest potential and build upon it.

A growing dependence on computer automation doesn’t have to make us dumb. Industrial automation is a testament to what can happen when new technologies are applied appropriately. Automation changes the way that work is done. New things are being automated everyday, and with the Internet of Things constantly increasing connectivity, automation is the future.