Nobody Gets Paid to do Addition

by Luke 3. June 2010 03:02

There was a time when "computers" meant a small army of secretaries doing tedious math problems in the service of war or business. Today, nobody gets paid to do addition. Or multiplication. We have machines to do that.

For that matter, we don't use lookup tables for trigonometry or logarithm calculations. Machines do those, too. We don't manually calculate the standard deviation for a data set. We click a button in a spreadsheet to do that. We don't even have to type in the data since most of the time a machine collected it. The machine calculates integrals. It solves partial differential equations numerically. For almost any type of math an engineer could want to do, we're running out of problems that a computer can't solve.

Simple problem solving is the latest class of work to be automated. My GPS can route me around traffic jams. Netflix and Amazon can suggest movies and books you might like. Google made a fortune deciding what adds to show with your search. All of that problem solving was more than number crunching.

Today we use computers to manage supply chains, balance stock portfolios, and decrypt terrorist communications. We are so far beyond automating simple addition that it is amazing no one seems amazed. And this is a trend that is still accelerating. Be ready because the engineers that can harness the power of decisions in software will be the only ones able to manage and build on the complexity that's growing around us.

Mindviews Labs Blog

Sharing about the future of automated engineering.