What Are The Pros and Cons of Automated Technology?

Technology has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, transforming the way we live, work, and interact. Automation technology, in particular, has shown itself to be a game-changer, offering significant efficiencies and accuracy improvements. As with any profound shift, though, it brings with it a host of potential issues and challenges. Within the UK, this dynamic relationship with automation technology is particularly pertinent given the country’s advanced economy and commitment to technological innovation. In this article, we’ll delve into the profound benefits of our newfound liaison with automation, while also addressing the potential downsides that have given many observers pause for thought.

Improved Efficiency

Automation, when appropriately applied, can significantly enhance efficiency across numerous sectors in the UK. In the healthcare sector; the NHS, one of the largest employers in the world, has started using automated appointment-booking systems. This technology has streamlined the appointment-making process, saving valuable time for both healthcare professionals and patients.

COVID-19 showed us the importance of efficient health care and how it plays a role in ensuring the wellbeing of our citizens. Though some may argue that automation makes some lazy, times like those reminded us that there are only so many hands manual labour can stand in for.

In the financial services sector, robo-advisors have automated investment management, making the process more efficient by using algorithms to optimise portfolios based on the risk profile and financial goals of clients. Companies such as Wealthsimple are at the forefront of this trend in the UK.

In the logistics sector, companies like DPD are integrating automated sorting systems into their distribution centres. These systems use AI and machine learning to sort parcels based on their size, weight, and destination, increasing sorting speed and reducing errors, thus increasing productivity within the entire supply chain process.

Improved Accuracy

The precision and consistency that automation brings to the table significantly improve accuracy across a wide variety of industries. In the medical field, for instance, automated lab equipment can conduct tests with remarkable precision, reducing human error and leading to more accurate diagnoses. Companies such as Roche Diagnostics offer automated testing equipment in the UK that can process hundreds of tests per hour with a high degree of accuracy.

In manufacturing, companies are deploying industrial robots that can perform repetitive tasks with pinpoint accuracy, reducing the margin for error and waste. BAE Systems, one of the UK’s largest defence, security, and aerospace companies, utilises automated machinery in its production lines to manufacture complex aircraft parts with an accuracy level that would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve manually.

Again, in financial services, automation is being harnessed to increase accuracy. Automated accounting software like Xero can accurately track and calculate financial transactions, minimising the risk of miscalculations and discrepancies in financial records.

In all these contexts, the key benefit of automation is the reduction of human error, thereby increasing the overall accuracy of operations. This, leads to better quality of products and services, improved customer satisfaction, and enhanced business performance.

While the benefits of automation and technology are quite significant, there are concerns about our growing dependence on these technologies. This is a topic that’s generating extensive debate in the UK and around the world.

Job Displacement in a Critical Economic State

The prospect of job displacement due to automation technologies is particularly concerning in the current economic climate of the UK, which has been marked by rising inflation. This trend is already putting pressure on household budgets, and individuals who lose their jobs to automation may find it particularly difficult to keep up with the increasing cost of living.

As automation technologies become more advanced and pervasive, they may replace jobs traditionally performed by humans, leading to job displacement.

Self-checkout systems in supermarkets and fast food chains for example, are reducing the need for cashiers, and AI-powered chatbots like ChatGPT are increasingly capable of performing tasks that would previously have required a human customer service advisor.

There’s also a risk that as we delegate more and more tasks to technology, our skills development in these areas could decline. This ‘deskilling’ could leave us vulnerable in situations where the technology fails or isn’t available. There’s also the issue of digital exclusion. In the UK, there are still those who are unable or unwilling to use digital technologies, and an over-reliance on these technologies can leave these individuals disadvantaged.

Our increasing dependence on technology raises questions about data privacy and security. As more of our lives and work move online, we become more vulnerable to data breaches and cyberattacks. These concerns are particularly pertinent in the tech space, where the recent Cl0p cyberattacks incidents have highlighted the potential consequences of cyber vulnerability.

It is important to note that technology and automation present significant opportunities for enhancing productivity, efficiency, and quality of life. The challenge lies in managing these technologies responsibly and equitably, ensuring that their benefits are widely shared while their potential downsides are mitigated.