Replacing manual operations with electronics and computer-controlled devices. For example, "office automation" replaced manual typewriters, filing cabinets and paper appointment books with computer applications. Tape and disk libraries have been called "automation systems" because robotic arms pick cartridges out of a stacker and move them to the drives.
Robots continue to replace human workers in factories; online learning displaces teachers, and computer-based systems of all kinds are slowly but surely eliminating jobs. At some future time when self-driving cars take off for public transportation, millions of jobs are expected to disappear around the globe. In fact, it has been estimated that as many as half of today's jobs in the U.S. will be replaced by automation by 2050. In the 21st century, educating and retraining people for high-tech employment is essential. See automator
, computer ethics
, naming fiascos
and automata theory
A Vision of Automation (circa 1895)
More than a hundred years ago, the concept of the future lacked a major ingredient... the computer! Artist unknown. (Image courtesy of Rosemont Engineering.)