Man as Industrial PalaceMy 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

The more we make without defects, the more we sell

The shorter the travel time, the faster we can get goods to market

Question: if machines are so much faster, why do we need humans?

Answer: they still cannot match the human brain

So, what are workplace tasks humans can do better?

Smell (women love perfumes)

Building, digging, typing, opening things

Forklifts that go anywhere


Beyond scaffolding

Modular pulleys

Precision athletcis

Triumph over all obstacles

Humans decide what to do with information

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.

Most importantly, not everything that is critical and valuable is quantifiable.

Liberal Learning and Human Capabilities

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