Automation is not a four letter word. As you can well see.
In our office jobs we all spend a certain portion of our time doing repetitive or low-value added work. We do it because it is work required to achieve the final high-value added outcome.
Automation does not replace the human: automation replaces the low-value added tasks. Leaving you free to perform the Augmentation.
I borrow the terminology from Thomas Davenport and his WSJ blog titled… wait for it… “Augmentation or Automation?”. Admittedly: I am using the former word in a slightly different way. I say that you + automation = AugmentedYou.
As Davenport writes:
Humans can do what they do best, computers can do what they do best, and together they will be great partners. Humans get to keep (at least some of) their jobs. And the combination of human and computer-based capabilities leads to a better outcome than either could provide on their own.
Humans on their own can produce great outcomes. Machines on their own can, well, do some work. Automation, technology: their benefits are minimal at best without the human input.
Davenport uses the example of chess (mentioning in the process an economist I read regularly, Tyler Cowen):
In one-on-one matches, we know the best chess players are computers these days, but there is a role for humans as well. The economist Tyler Cowen in Average Is Over (not surprisingly, a chess champion in his youth), as well as The Second Machine Age authors Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, use the example of “freestyle chess,” in which human chessplayers are free to use as much help from computers as they wish. I’m not a chessplayer (I like to get paid for thinking that hard), but I gather that Freestyle chess players are quite effective, often rivaling and beating the best computer programs on their own.
The whole piece gives more good examples of technology and humans working together for a greater outcome, and in his conclusion Davenport points out that change requires learning, hard work and, sometimes, humility. It is also the key to longevity.