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Automation and Society

Automation related with machines is the feature of modern industrial society which displaces rather than replaces human labour and skill to maintenance, planning, distribution and ancillary work. Nowdays computer has been added in the field of automation with all its qualities. With the aid of computers tool production task can be designed, constructed and redesigned quickly. Fast development has taken place in the design of industrial robots to perform large number of functions performed earlier by human beings. A lot of programmes have been developed in computers which make every kind of calculation easy. These programmes are the example of what is known as Artificial Intelligence –the programming of computers so that they behave in ways that we could call intelligence if they were people.

Automation will bring complexity in social life where social distance among the people would increase, isolation would become more intense and man would be likely lonely crowd. The roles of norms and values would decrease as interaction among the people would lessen creating problem in society. The facilities like INTERNET and satellite programmes have increased interaction among people sitting at distant places but at the same time helped in the increase of crime and pornography which are attacks on norms and values. More automation would bring complexity in human society which would bring changes in the cultural patterns and it will also widen gap between developed and developing societies.

Robert Blauner views that alienation is maximum with mass production industry based on mechanized assembly line technology. Alienation results in the growth of hostility between the workers and management and proliferation of trade unions.Blauner argue that automation of industries will eliminate such hostilities and all forms of alienation. Coercive control of the management will be gone and cooperation and consultation will take its place. Trade Unions will become loyal to the management. The workers will increasingly become white collar workers. Serge Mallet criticized Blauner's views although he says that integration of workers in the factory will take place with the onslaught of automation. Mallet argues that this will not result in the integration of workers into the capitalist society. Since the workers in automated industry have greater control over the forces of production, they will tend to question the authority of the management which will result in the conflict of interest between them. This will strengthen trade union activities and make ways for a class struggle.