That sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it? No one would dare suggest that we not change our own babies’ diapers, yet some types of automation are just as ridiculous. We don’t even want to peel our own hard boiled eggs.
As an IT Magician, I spend a lot of time automating processes to reduce / eliminate human error, ensure patient data protection, and increase efficiency for our transcriptionists and customers. For example, as much demographic information as possible is filled in by the system when an MT starts a new job. Once typing is finished, spell checking is started automatically and jobs are routed appropriately depending on the account specifications. This type of automation makes sense. The million dollar question is “Is there such a thing as too much automation?” I believe the answer is yes.
In some cases automation has unintended consequences. One example is the increased use of calculators. While these devices are extremely handy, their constant use decreases our ability to do even simple mathematics. Try multiplying 12 by 15 in your head. How long did it take? Did you just give up and pull out a calculator? Even worse, did you use a calculator to check your answer?
Another example is the increased ease of storing lots of information in our computers, tablets and smart phones. Gone are the days of remembering your friends’ phone numbers. When I was a kid, I was a walking phone book! If you were stranded and your phone battery was dead, how many people could you call for help from a borrowed phone? Do you remember your friends’ birthdays or is that Facebook’s job?
The old saying “use it, or lose it” is very true. If you don’t exercise your brain, it will eventually start forgetting how to perform even the simplest of tasks. Studies have shown that continuous learning wards off diseases like Alzheimer’s. You should exercise your memory each day just as you exercise your body each day. It would be a shame to end up with the body of a 22-year-old and the mind of an 8-year-old.
I believe automation has its place. It’s important that we use it judiciously so we don’t forget how to survive when our technology is not available.
Let’s hear your thoughts. Do you think there is such a thing as too much automation? Where do you think we’ve taken it too far?
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