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Blog 1: Welcome!


Welcome to my Blog! This is part of my weekly assignments for ENP-162 Human Machine Design.


If you're not familiar with me or the site; My name's George Katilus. I'm a senior at Tufts University studying Engineering Psychology with a minor in Entrepreneurial Leadership. After undergrad, I will be studying at the Tufts Gordon Institute for a Master's of Science in Innovation and Management.


In my professional life, I have worked at Masschallenge (A global startup accelerator) as a Startup Analyst and the United States Department of Transportation as an Engineering Psychologist. By now, you may sense that I have an affinity towards the crux of design and business. My dream would be to lead a sustainable, product driven business or consult on design and sustainability.


Outside of the professional, I spend my time surfing, exploring the northeast, taking photos, and volunteering my skills to political and environmental groups.


 



Since this class is centered around Human-Machine Systems and Automation, I will start with my thoughts on automation. I'm a bit of a luddite when it comes to artificial intelligence and automation. No matter what I say or do, the march of robots will trudge on, jobs will be replaced, mine won't for a while (hopefully after I retire).


I'm not saying that our quality of life will definitely suffer with more automation and robots in our workplaces, but it very well may. What happens to tradesmen who never go to college? The elderly men who can't wait to have a conversation with their bank teller because its the only interaction they will have that week? Human connection, emotion, and happiness has a place in work and some people gain real satisfaction from things that others would want automated, what about those people?


Of course, there are benefits that our robot overlords will bring, and I welcome some of them. Optimization of shipping, logistics, and transportation will buy us more time in the day and help to reduce our footprint on the earth. Smart homes and buildings will allow for greater savings on energy costs and emissions. Some work automation that doesn't take away jobs should theoretically either give us more time out of the office or higher wages (assuming the trend between productivity and pay gets tighter in the future).


So, I understand that automation can and will help us save time, money, and the environment. I fear that we will become complacent and allow too much control to be given up. This excludes where the environment and lives come into play, we should do anything and everything to improve health care and halt our emissions. But as a general tone, I hope those with power and influence will keep a vigilant eye on the automation and AI in our lives and make sure that it is not taking the humanity away from us. We can't afford to lose control of what we create or our ability to enjoy life in a natural way, on our terms.


We will eventually come to miss the simplicity of chatting with a waitress at a diner, having a mailman who loves your dog for his anxious self, or the curt teller at the DMV. All 3 jobs can and will be optimized and automated. You won't miss the inconvenience of the humans helping you, you'll miss those little moments; the smiles, the conversation, the attitudes, the ability to connect, and whatever little imperfections make us human. Those will never be replicated and will be taken for granted.


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