The future of automation: what will be the man’s place?

The literature and filmography that dealt with the development of robots and Artificial Intelligence have almost always presented scenarios that are not too reassuring for humans. Now that the future read in the novels and seen in the movies is becoming our present.

How should we behave therefore to make the most of the benefits of change?

Let’s try to find out through two examples of automation of the future, or perhaps already of the present.

The automated harbour of Hamburg

In Hamburg, inside the Altenwerder container terminal (the district where the harbour is located) there is no place for men. The site is fully automated and operating 24 hours a day. If a person tries to enter the fenced area (as large as thirty football fields) the security system would block the entire system, to avoid accidents.

✅ Vehicles and giant unmanned cranes handle the entire process of managing containers, from trucks to the dock, from which they are then loaded onto ships.

✅ The whole system is remotely controlled by 19 thousand transponders installed in the ground, to perfectly synchronize all movements.

The automated factory of Sindelfingen

If the project in Hamburg is already working, in Sindelfingen (near Stuttgart) the German automotive giant Daimler is building the Factory 56, that will become one of the most modern car factories, in which machines will build other machines.

In what is today one of the biggest construction sites in Germany, cars will be produced in a completely autonomous way tomorrow.

✅ Each component of the future car will be transported independently inside the factory and provided with a chip through which it will be traced throughout the production chain.

✅ The connected machines will organize, plan and distribute the work without any human intervention. The ordering process itself at the suppliers will be managed independently: the robots will take care of every aspect, from customer ordering to assembly and delivery.

✅ Everything will be synchronized to perfection to dispose of the components chosen by the customer during the order phase, at the exact moment of the installation.

✅ It is even thought that in the entire automation process will also be incorporated departments until now reserved for man, such as legal and insurance. For example, through chat bots it will be possible to provide all the necessary assistance or drones will be sent to carry out inspections and surveys on damaged cars.

What will we do tomorrow?

These examples of complete automation necessarily open the debate on what will be the place of man when (and if) these technologies will become our normality. Great inventions have always “stolen” jobs, often creating an increase in well-being but also poverty (think, for example, of the impact of the steam engine on the society of the time).

➡️ The social implications of this transformation must be carefully analysed, with a clear mind and without alarmism, excessive concerns and scepticism.

➡️ Technology should not be considered a “bad” entity, but an instrument through which to derive benefits and advantages. On the other hand, even the opposite attitude, unconditional trust, may not represent the best approach to manage this epochal change.

To take advantage of the new possibilities (for example the increasing demands of software and automation specialists or engineers) and to use new technologies as useful tools, we need to change our point of view: moving from the idea of a jobless world to a new one way of working.

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