Riffing on a theme

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I often write these as inspiration strikes and today it did.

Specifically I’m inspired by Grant Fritchey’s latest blog post THERE IS A MAGIC BUTTON, A RANT.

First, I couldn’t resist doing this simply because I could put a pun in the title. (Read his entire article to see what I mean.)

But more so, because it’s part of a theme I’ve heard for decades. “This new technology will put people out of jobs!”

The truth is, sometimes it’s true.  I mean, how many buggy-whip manufacturers do you see these days? How many do you think existed before Ford started rolling the Model T off of the assembly line? How many after?

Yes, the Model T put many buggy-whip makers out of jobs. BUT, it created far more jobs than it eliminated.

Automated elevators put out elevator operators out of a job. But you know what, for the most part, that’s a good thing. Let’s use our human capital in a better, wiser way.

For decades I’ve heard that one technology or another will make SQL useless or pointless.  At one point it was object oriented databases. Now it’s NoSQL. But you know what, SQL is not only still here, it’s thriving and now often when folks use the term NoSQL instead of meaning NO SQL, they’re using it as a short-hand for Not ONLY SQL.

So, performance tuning automation? Great. I love it. Bring it on. It WILL in fact mean less work I have to do on that front in many cases. But you know what, it won’t fix the situation I’m in right now where a customer has a server they use for “database conversions”. The problems include databases still in FULL Recovery mode, but no log backups, DBCCs not being done in weeks or months on some of these and the tempDB log filling up the drive on Saturday while I was sitting in a talk at the Albany SQL Saturday.

Yes, at some point most of those issues will probably be handled automatically, but until they do, I’ll be busy. And when they DO automate those, I’ll have moved on to new issues.

There’s always a place for trained people.

Since I like to link my topics to other ideas like plane crashes, I’ll point out that autopilots on modern commercial airliners are amazing things. They really can pretty much handle any part of normal flight operations including take-offs and landings. But, what they can’t handle is the unexpected. And this is actually an issue in two ways. First of course, is the fact that it took human ingenuity to safely land the Miracle on the Hudson.  There’s no autopilot out there that could make that decision and pull it off.

The second, and this is actually a bigger issue automated cars are facing is that with the use of an autopilot/self-driving car, 99.99% of the time, operations become SO mundane the pilot or “driver” ends up out of the loop. They end up reading, falling asleep or simply not paying attention. This means that when they ARE required to interact, there can be a several second delay before they’re fulling aware of the situation and can react. In a plane this may or may not be an issue depending on the altitude the situation occurs at.

In a self-driving car, we’re already seeing situations were the “driver” can’t get back into the control loop fast enough and an accident occurs.

So, while automation can eliminate a lot of the drudgery and “take away jobs” we still need humans in the loop and there is no foreseeable end to the jobs we’ll be needed to do.

So don’t despair about automation.

 

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