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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Automation Imperative Accelerates


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Robotic arms.

The Coronavirus pandemic has made the automation imperative much more immediate, while greatly accelerating the pace of digital change.

Credit: Robotics Business Review

It was never true. Automation was not destined to destroy our jobs and leave us all with nothing to do. Quite the contrary. Modern nations need all the automation they can get if they are to meet the economic, demographic, environmental, and competitiveness challenges of the 21st century.

The Coronavirus pandemic has made this "automation imperative" much more immediate, while greatly accelerating the pace of digital change. Just think of all the tasks where technology-enabled automation now plays a vital societal role. How do we check-in with friends and family? How many orders can the online grocery industry fulfill? How easily can companies ramp up production of items facing a shortage? How fast can governments and banks process loans and put money directly into peoples' accounts. How well can videoconferencing services such as Zoom scale? How can we talk to our doctor without visiting an office or hospital? How can e-learning fill in for all the schools and universities that have closed? How quickly can COVID-19 tests be conducted and interpreted? How reliably can firms operate with literally no one in the office? We could easily go on.

 

From Robotics Business Review


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