Thursday, August 19, 2010

AutOmatiOn WiLl NeVEr RePlAce mE !!!

In my experience, there are many ways to use automation to assist people with work, and reduce the load needed, but ultimately we always need a human in the loop. Someone should be available to check that the calculation or the change in process is the correct one. Someone also has to be able deviate from what seems to be the rule for some process and override it.

I've seen this in the past in a few places. Once where I worked with a chef trying to automate his ordering process. He was sure that he could input recipes, make guesses about usage, and then inventory constantly, adjusting his predictions and a well designed inventory system would calculate purchase orders for him. I don't know if his predictions were poor, or if the logic wasn't correct, but he didn't ever seem to have as good a hand on his inventory as he needed. I used that as a basis for a liquor inventory system when I was bartending, but took the "recommendations" from the system and adjusted them based on intuition. That seemed to work out much better.

Real life if messy, and often I think we try to simplify it so much with our models that we don't build a system that really works well. I'm of the opinion that technology is here to assist us, not do the work for us, and we need to keep that in mind as we design software. Allow for the experienced professional to override things and use their experience to make the final decision.