As we, in America, sit down to our annual Thanksgiving feasts, we give thanks for the parts of our lives that are truly important. Family. Community. Love. The things that will stay with us through the years. The things that we would truly miss.
One thing that is never on the top of mind when giving thanks is automation. Why should it be? While it is present in almost everyone's lives in one form or another, it is not in the spotlight. In fact, if it is good at what it does, automation is invisible. It should be lurking in the background, doing its tasks with no interaction from the outside.
So, PHC would like to give thanks to automation and all those who keep it running!
We would not have many staples of a modern Thanksgiving without automation. I have two cans of pureed pumpkin at home, hot off an assembly line full of conveyors and robots. And what about my sugar, flour, and other ingredients that make my pumpkin pie? An automated irrigation system watered the Russet potatoes that I mash for dinner, along with all the other vegetables set to adorn my mother's dining room table. Then there is the turkey itself. The meat industry was one of the first to use an assembly line, inspiring Henry Ford to repurpose the system for production of Model Ts.
Don't forget all the other, ancillary, tasks that automation influences during this holiday gathering. Like airplane and ticket reservations. Oh, and those fancy football graphics like the first down markers you see as the Packers trounce the Lions (we can only hope)! All possible because of software automation. The heat that keeps us warm through our fancy thermostats. The Apple iPads, iPhones, and laptops we use to video chat with our family that cannot make it to our side of the country. The electricity generated to keep all of these things running! It all uses automaton.
There are those out there who would shake their fist in anger at these modern conveniences. They argue that we are taking away peoples jobs and destroying the earth with these mass produced items. I have sympathy for their argument, and I do believe that things like hand crafted goods and home grown meals have their place. My family has its own vegetable garden where we pride ourselves with our organic meals. There is something to picking the Basil off the plant before mincing it to top some fresh Mozzarella. However, to say that automation is all bad would be folly. Can we feed a world population of 7 billion and growing with manual farming? Do we expect parents to hand wash all of their clothing instead of reading to their children? How about the modern factory worker? Should we expect them to break their backs doing repetitive, mundane work? Automation has its problems, and they are not easy to fix, but I would argue that in greater scheme of things automation has created far more good in this world than bad.
So as you pour a glass of wine or pop open a bottle of beer to raise in toast, do not think about automation, because there are far more important things to be thankful for. Perhaps you could just give it a little thought over this holiday weekend, and marvel at how it makes this modern world work.
Maybe while you wait in line at the airport service desk because the automated software overbooked your flight home.