In particular, the four-legged machines seen trying to open doors in their laboratory this week reminded people of pet dogs.
Watching a robot dog “figure out” how to open a door is an eerie experience, and people can be forgiven for thinking these actions are being taken with no outside help. The truth is that human guidance is still essential. While the machines do support onboard computing, remote control is what makes these “pets” do what they do. That doesn’t detract from the progress Boston Dynamics are making. Their remarkable product range includes the SandFlea, which drives along flat surfaces like a remote-controlled car and can make vertical jumps of 30 feet, and the Cheetah, a four-footed creation that can run at 28 miles per hour. That’s approximately the same speed as an in-form Usain Bolt.
The debate continues about whether this level of engineering innovation will be good or bad news for the human workforce. How threatened should we feel?
There’s no substitute for the real thing, and while automation in the workplace can take plenty of tasks out of human hands, nuanced human intelligence is still needed to make good use of technology.
Jane Systems has spent two decades maintaining the delicate balance between automation and ingenuity, and the success of that balance is perfectly illustrated in the Workflow module. Jane Workflow transforms your HR system from simple record keeping into a fully automated system which does the work for you. Many business processes can be repetitive and subject to error. If you map these processes onto workflows, though, you can automate and monitor them. Productivity rises, the potential for error falls and consistent quality becomes a way of life.
Increasing automation in the workplace doesn’t necessarily mean running on auto-pilot. Robot dogs still need human guidance and automated workflows still need astute management.