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On automation

On automation

The minute screws affixing the temples of one’s eyeglasses to the lenses, the steel ball forming the point of a ballpoint pen, and glitter, silica, and sugar, each micronized to a seemingly slippery dust; the bristles placed with precision to the handle of a plastic toothbrush and the near-perfection of the cotton-threaded hems of our cotton bedding; books, and the adhesive, ink, and paper from which they’re composed; processed foodstuffs, and their individual edible components and packaging materials – virtually everything we encounter in the modern consumable world is touched by mechanization.

And despite the ascendancy of automation and robotics in manufacturing today, the suggestion by some that we are at risk of an intended or unintended outdoing by robots is often baffling to the engineers involved in developing and producing the debated machines.

Like a clawed hammer or hand saw, most robots are human tools – they do not function autonomously – so using language suggesting they are ‘taking over’ is confusing. Do you mean we are employing more assistive technologies?

Because yes, we are. We humans are superbly skilled at creating and implementing tools to ease physical efforts, and have been demonstrating these abilities for over 2.5 million years, when the first indisputable human tools were used.

Capitalistic tendencies and the sometimes unfortunate human outcomes aside (note: let us label this ‘The Real Problem’), the progression and further integration of robotics in manufacturing ought to be framed as the natural evolution of our enduring employment of assistive technologies, not an invitation for post-apocalyptic preparation.

Strata of truth

Strata of truth

Dedication to design + sustainability

Dedication to design + sustainability