Robotic Process Automation

Bots Need Not Apply: Mapping the Limits of Automation

Many of us are busy finding areas and ways to implement automation. This article focuses on the contrary. 

Although automation gives us an edge over traditional ways of resolving issues and achieving accelerated results, it’s also necessary to identify processes that shouldn’t or needn’t be automated.

In many areas, it’s better for humans to retain control to ensure that both the process and the results of automation are human-centric. 

What follows is a list of proposed areas where automation should be kept at bay. The point of identifying such areas is to trigger a discussion (for a change!) about the limits that should be imposed on automation.

  1. Strategic planning: Long-term planning involves adapting to unforeseen circumstances, understanding market shifts and foreseeing potential challenges. Human strategists often blend analytical thinking with intuition, considering the broader geopolitical situations and socio-economic landscape.
  2. Policy and guideline creation or modifications: Creating effective policies requires a consideration of diverse perspectives and needs of the organization and society. Humans bring a holistic understanding of cultural, historical and ethical nuances which may be challenging for AI to capture comprehensively.
  3. Ethical decision-making: AI lacks a true sense of morality and may not comprehend the ethical complexities of certain situations. Although thousands of use cases are being applied for training machines, they still need to cross the status of hallucination, considering the analogue nature of the subject. Humans bring a nuanced understanding of ethics, cultural values and empathy, which are crucial when faced with morally ambiguous choices.
  4. Crisis management: Humans excel at managing crises due to their emotional resilience, empathy and ability to collaborate under pressure. Crisis situations often require not just logical problem-solving but also the capacity to provide emotional support considering human values.
  5. Unique expertise: Professions that demand specialized knowledge, like certain scientific research or cultural preservation efforts, often rely on human expertise. The depth of understanding, contextual insight and adaptability which is inherent in human expertise can be challenging for AI to replicate.
  6. Critical decision-making: In contexts where decisions have profound consequences, such as in healthcare or national security, human judgment is essential. The ability to weigh intangible factors and understand the potential short and long-term effects is a skill that AI may struggle to replicate.
  7. Creative tasks: True creativity often involves intuition, inspiration and emotional depth. While AI can generate content based on patterns, it may struggle to produce genuinely groundbreaking or emotionally resonant work that arises from unique human experiences and perspectives.
  8. Highly unpredictable situations: Unpredictable scenarios demand split-second decisions and the ability to adapt dynamically for effective and appropriate first response or crisis intervention. Human instincts and rapid problem-solving in the face of uncertainty, while keeping human values at the core, still remain unparalleled.
  9. Interpersonal relationships: Negotiation, conflict resolution, understanding emotions and subtle social and non-verbal cues are intricate human skills. Whether in a professional setting or our personal relationships, the ability to navigate the complexity of human interactions requires a deep understanding of emotions and context. In professions like counseling, customer service or companionship, the authenticity of human interaction is irreplaceable.
  10. Human interactions are interesting due to the complexities, contradictions and paradoxes involved. That allows for each person to express and address similar situations in unique ways. Hence, it’s better to keep certain human aspects unautomated.

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