My professional focus is knowledge and process management. As a result, when I hear doomsday predictions forecasting a world where human talent is no longer necessary, I pay attention. I love machines! My computer, my washing machine, my microwave. However, none of these replace what I can do on my own, they just increase by efficiency when I need high speed or large quantities (i.e. mass production). If asked why I don’t believe the doomsday forecasts, the answer is simple:
Machines are oriented to perfection. Humans are oriented to progress.
Counterpoint: yes but there are so many defective humans that don’t follow this principle.
Rebuttal: and there are many defective machines plus most do not last 40 to 80 years.
Question: what is driving the business obsession with machine automation?
Answer: cost. Time is literally money and yes we do measure these things.
A video is worth more than a picture:
The cost of waiting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98dfCH9Mu3c
The more we make without defects, the more we sell http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHwTHarf8Ck
The shorter the travel time, the faster we can get goods to market http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNXWHpsJJQI
Question: if machines are so much faster, why do we need humans?
Answer: they still cannot match the human brain http://io9.com/this-computer-took-40-minutes-to-simulate-one-second-of-1043288954
So, what are workplace tasks humans can do better?
Smell (women love perfumes) http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1io3up_humans-can-smell-a-trillion-scents_travel
Building, digging, typing, opening things http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfVqmA3wjJg
Forklifts that go anywhere http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lV-iP1jSMlI
Beyond scaffolding http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtWwN29Mq2s
Modular pulleys http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGfxALMr-Z4
Precision athletcis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuRIN9yLZhg
Triumph over all obstacles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IbndfX0xfY
Humans decide what to do with information http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QSJWNdBiJY
and, to my knowledge, even self-emulating robotic machines are not creative enough to come up with drawings like Fritz Khan and other artists.
Lean philosophy is about improving flow. One thing we can do to improve human flow (and longevity) is reduce stress. Here is a Total Productive Maintenance tip for Human Machines:
Set environments to Zero Stress: Stress has cascading effects from one human machine to another. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/stress-contagious-23507356
Most importantly, not everything that is critical and valuable is quantifiable.
Liberal Learning and Human Capabilities http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_0tw_CViIo
Ultimately, the control is ours to loose or to keep. If we build a machine it is up to us to determine its use. What is the utility in creating our own planned obsolesce? Progress is predicated on adjustment and we can set the pace of adjustment so that all members of our species can benefit from the progress we create through automation.
The choice is entirely ours….
April 30, 2004 addition
Humans can look at each other’s LinkedIn posts and share cool ideas. This video epitomizes machine perfection and human progress in tandem.
Evolution of the Formula 1 Pit Stop http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOJbM0aXZp0