Automation & Autonomics ― the difference is more than just a few letters

By Richard Arneson

Analogy Alert! When VHS recorders were first introduced to the marketplace, I couldn’t imagine a better customer than my Mother. She had just retired and watching re-runs of The Rockford Files consumed a large percentage of her free time (and there was plenty of it). I never tried to walk her through setting the time on her new 50 lb. VCR―which flashed 12:00AM for over ten (10) years―but it was imperative she learn how to schedule, or automate, the recording of The Rockford Files. But once Channel 27 started shifting its line-up on what seemed like a weekly basis, her automated process no longer worked. She needed, essentially, an autonomic solution, one that could address the TV station’s need to recklessly scatter her show throughout any of its five (5) programming day parts.

Thankfully, digital transformation found Mom in the form of a digital video recorder (DVR), which was provided through her cable company and allowed her to record The Rockford Files whenever it aired, regardless of channel or time. This solution ensured she’d be able to keep track of Jim Rockford, even though she’d seen each episode at least five (5) times. To a degree, this is analogous to , even though there was no thrown into the mix. But the DVR allowed her to program criteria to accomplish her automated task.

―great for performing repetitive, time-consuming tasks

The term automation was coined by an engineer at The Ford Motor Company in the 1940’s who was working on ways to expedite certain processes and, in doing so, reduce the company’s largest expense―personnel. While its roots are in manufacturing, specifically how robotics could mimic the production of line workers at a fraction of the cost, it has become an integral cog in the technology wheel, as well.

While the fear of automation has always centered around its threat to jobs and employment, it has actually, especially in the case of IT, allowed personnel to better focus on projects and initiatives that expedite speed to market and enhance bottom line revenue.

Autonomics―designed to mimic unconscious human thinking

Autonomics borrows its name from the body’s central nervous system, which naturally regulates bodily functions. Imagine having to remember to start your heart every few seconds to pump blood throughout your body. You’d live about thirty (30) minutes. Autonomics, as it relates to technology, does essentially the same thing. When pre-defined conditions are met, a self-healing action is triggered with the intent of returning the system to a normal, healthy state. Essentially, it automates the healing process for the affected system(s).

Machine Learning―Learning from data to improve processes

Through the use of learning algorithms, autonomic capabilities can be extended to handle more complex tasks.  Machine Learning is the creation of learning algorithms, which falls under a subset of the (). These algorithms are leveraged to detect patterns in data for the purposes of making data-driven predictions or decisions. Machine Learning is especially useful for complex, high-volume back office and engineering tasks for dynamic workloads. An example of Machine Learning in your everyday life are services like Amazon or Netflix, which “learns” about your likes based on prior purchases or selections, then makes recommendations based on those.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)―the end goal

AI is often confused, or used interchangeably, with Machine Learning. However, AI refers more to the final destination, and Machine Learning as the vehicle to get you there. The vast collection of data that Machine Learning collects basically fuels that vehicle.

Bringing its many benefits to organizations of all sizes

There are many areas in which automation, autonomics, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence can improve your infrastructure. That’s why turning to experts like those at GDT should be your first order of business. They’ve delivered solutions and consulting services that have, among other things, expedited processes and provided tremendous cost efficiencies to companies of all sizes, and from a wide variety of industries. You can reach them at Engineering@gdt.com.  They’d love to hear from you.