George Orwell promised us flying cars in 1984. One hundred years ago, visionary French artist Villemard imagined that machines would construct buildings by following the instructions of an architect (as seen in the above picture). In modern times we are repeatedly promised that the next generation software will enable business users to build software without the support of IT or enable the system to be auto-generated based solely upon the architect’s design artifacts. The seemingly endless pursuit of automation leads me to wonder if the human race is fundamentally interested in efficiency and productivity, or primarily motivated by utter laziness?
No matter how you slice it, there is something intriguing and magnetic about the concept of automatically manufacturing something based upon robotically following the design instructions. It was appealing in 1910 and it continues to be a popular feature that many software vendors aim to provide. And yet, there is a common observation that seems to fly in the face of all such efforts – human beings and the human thought process is exceedingly complex and difficult to parse. In other words, you can design and specify and configure all you want, but ultimately, the interpretation and implementation of those design instructions is best carried out by a human being. That human is capable of applying heuristics and critical thinking skills to interpret and carry out the intended design instructions.
While we wait for androids, flying cars, machines that automatically constructs buildings, and software tools that auto-generate your system implementation and support full round-trip from design to code and back to design, I’ll be relying upon heavy doses of human effort that is augmented and enabled through technology automation.