What is the price of Automation Paradox

Effects of automation paradox

In recent times, the concept of automation has become extremely popular with every enterprise looking to automate its manual processes to cut costs, improve productivity and operational efficiency followed by reallocating people to value additive tasks.By taking away the easier parts of the task, automation can make the difficult parts of the human operator’s task more difficult. All the easy things are automated and so what remains are the tougher tasks. When the systems are automated too much, their behavior in key respects becomes harder to predict.When these systems experience a breakdown, then it becomes even more difficult to diagnose the root cause of the breakdown.In the age of increasing automation – Chatbots, Devops and AIops, this problems becomes even more pronounced. This is known as automation paradox.
For instance, in the case of Boeing 747 MAX, due to high automation, human factors were left out of the design process.So when humans cannot function effectively as a coordinated system with automation then disastrous things can emerge.

Implications of Automation Paradox

  • Automation is not a panacea as expected and many customers are facing issues in automation front itself.The mean time to restore is going up in automation inspite of high investments in trying to reduce it.
  • It is critical to recognize that this problem is inherent and won’t go away.The paradox can extend to other areas where automation prevents human operators from making meaningful interventions.
  • The automation paradox is all around us from Facebook’s algorithms which replaced human editors to digital assistants like Siri.In the real life too, we forget to remember others contact numbers because we have phones that store and retrieve these numbers for us.
  • The automation systems accommodate incompetence by being easy to operate and by automatically correcting mistakes.Even if the operator is skilled, the automation systems denies the opportunity for the operator to practice his skill, gradually diminishing his expertise.When these systems fail then it takes a huge effort to correct it and the operators are not skilled enough to diaganose and resolve the issues.

How to get rid of Automation paradox

There are some ways to get rid of Automation paradox.

  • Design the human/machine system as an unified whole.A human first approach would recognize irreplaceable human skills like complex decision making, emotional intelligence and creativity and then building automation to support them.This approach would mean providing rigorous training for human operators to help them prepare for exceptional situations.
  • Empower teams as your highest value unit as traditional team silos of technical expertise can’t keep up with the demands of cloud computing and its associated trends such as AI/DevOps.
  • Leverage AI to solve issues as AI for IT operations capabilities promise real visibility and stability improvements.
  • Rationalize the Automation portfolio.Google has a different approach to this issue and takes humans entirely out of the equation.In the case of self driving cars, Google does not provide steering wheel, brakes and gas pedal.Hence humans do not have any role in driving the car.In case of an issue, Google will send another car to pick up the passengers leaving the faulty car to be repaired by the technician.

Final Takeaway

  • Automation has become inevitable in our life, but at the same time they aren’t infallible.When they make a mistake, the repercussions can be severe.
  • At a time when automation is stealing jobs, the paradox tell us that the role of humans is even more critical.

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