Is there such a thing as too much automation?
At a family wedding the other weekend, I fell into conversation with a relative who has several decades of experience in the aerospace industry. He bemoaned a growing problem among the younger engineers who work for him. It seems that some of these highly-paid professionals have not developed the ability to look at a finished piece of work and say – “That doesn’t seem right” – because they rely on their advanced computer systems to do the validation. When the computer makes a mistake, they do not have the breadth of experience to realize it.
This point resonated with me for the simple reason that I experience it every day. I’m a professional automator – I automate software processes for a living – and I spend a lot of time inside the Amazon Web Services cloud. AWS handles the compute, storage and networking details for me so I can focus on higher-level tasks, which is both nice and worrisome. Nice because I can get more done in less time, worrisome because I don’t get the opportunity to grapple with the implementation details of server and network virtualization. I understand those things on a theoretical level, but I don’t get to play with them much, and this sometimes hampers my grasp of what’s really going on beneath all the automation.