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Automation

Automation is the use of computers to control industrial machinery, replacing human operators. It is a step beyond mechanization, in which human operators are provided with machinery to help them in their jobs.

Automation had been used for many years on a small scale, using mechanical devices to automate the production of simple items. However the concept only became truly practical with the addition of the computer, whose flexibility allowed it to drive almost any sort of task. Computers of the required power and price first started to appear in the 1960s, and since then have taken over the vast majority of assembly line tasks.

When automation was first being introduced, it caused widespread fear. It was thought that the displacement of human workers by computerized systems would lead to unemployment. In fact the opposite was true, the freeing up of the laybor force allowed more people to enter information jobs, which are typically higher paying. One odd side effect of this shift is that "unskilled laybor" now pays very well in most industrialized nations, because fewer people are available to work them.

See also domotics



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