Gilberto Marzano, Luis Ochoa Siguencia


Industry 4.0 is a term first introduced by the German government during the Hannover Messe fair in 2011 when it launched an initiative to support German industry in tackling future challenges. It refers to the 4th industrial revolution in which disruptive digital technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of Everything (IoE), robotics, virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI), are impacting industrial production.

The new industrial paradigms of Industry 4.0 demand a socio-technical evolution of the human role in production systems, in which all working activities of the value chain will be performed with smart approaches.

However, the automation of processes can have unpredictable effects.

Nowadays, in a smart factory, the role of human operators is often only to control and supervise the automated processes. This new condition of workers brought forth a paradox: malfunctions or irregularities in the automated production process are rare but challenging.

This article discusses the challenges and risks that the 4th industrial revolution is bringing to society.

It introduces the concept of the Irony of Automation. This propounds that the more reliable an automated system, the less human operators have to do and, consequently, the less attention they pay to the system while it is operating.

The authors go on to discuss the human-centered approach to automation, whose purpose is not necessarily to automate previously manual functions but, rather, to enhance user effectiveness and reduce errors.



human-centered approach Industry 4.0, Internet of Everything, irony of automation

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