Blog Post #1 – Human-Machine Systems and Automation

Hello and Welcome to ENP162 website!

Hello! Thank you for visiting my portfolio site for ENP162. My name is Fallon Shaughnessy, and I am a human factors engineering master’s student at Tufts University. The purpose of my blog is to share my thoughts and insights on all things human factors and automation. And I would love to hear from you! Don’t hesitate to leave comments and replies via the space provided at the end of each blog post. My hope is that this page becomes a place for lively discussion!

Human-Machine Systems and Automation

We live in an increasingly technology-driven world, which is clearly highlighted through the evolution of automated systems and how we interact with them. With rapid strides in our advancement of automated technology, I also become increasingly curious about the ethics surrounding these systems. Are they dangerous? Could they do more harm than good? What constitutes harm?

I always think about a childhood favorite book of mine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Poor Mr. Bucket was replaced at the toothpaste factory because of these very machines. Because of his unemployment, Charlie and his family faced financial trouble and a general worsening of well being both physically and psychologically. Daniel Akst for The Wilson Quarterly wrote of these risks and responsibilities we have when implementing automation into industry. When we think of harm, we often think of physical injury or death. We all have heard about how self driving cars can, and have, caused physically harmful accidents. But what other types of harm are we subjecting humans to through automation? And how can we be cognizant of these risks? Who benefits from automated systems and who doesn’t?

2 thoughts on “Blog Post #1 – Human-Machine Systems and Automation

  1. Nice to meet you Fallon. I wholeheartedly agree with your concerns about the future of automation. First off, I do not think people in power (whether corporate or government) are concerned enough about the impending changes coming to our work force. First, we need to be considerate of the loss in wages for both skilled and unskilled labor that will be automated away. After a long chain of other societal and economical considerations I like to ponder the question: What will happen to empathy and emotion in our daily lives as automation becomes more present?

  2. Hi Fallon, this is a really well-written first look at the ethical concerns regarding automation. I really liked your connection to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and I would be interested in knowing if there are other places, perhaps in pop culture or other movies, where you see the risk of automation (something like Wall E comes to mind for me). And perhaps a separate question, why is this a repeating concern in children’s media?

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