What Not to Automate

A wise person once said “Automate as much as you can”. While this seems like an obvious statement at first blush, on further consideration there are a number of exceptions to this rule. This begs the question: What shouldn’t I automate? When automation seems like the obvious choice, it may be because we’re blind to the consequences or cost of that automation. This talk will give you a framework for deciding if you should automate a task. We’ll discuss:

  • The return on investment of time to automate
  • The ethical considerations of automating particular tasks, such as hiring
  • Tasks that require human consideration
  • When automation goes wrong (hint: IoT might come up…)

We’ll consider this question through the lens of economics, business, ethics, and of course technology to understand the many reasons why you might not automate a process.



Lucy Wyman

Software Engineer for Bolt at Puppet

I’m a software engineer for Puppet, where I’m currently working on our open source remote task runner Bolt. I graduated from Oregon State University