I stumbled across some olde files while looking for important paperwork.
One of my final year papers in 1982 was Computers in Manufacturing. Friend or Foe? (scanned PDF 6MB)
From the Discussion summary:
The manufacturing industries are the backbone of modern society, supplying many of the needs and wants to which we have become accustomed, as well as a major component of jobs. Therefore any drastic change in the nature of manufacturing will have marked effects on the rest of society. Computers have been the source of such a change.
In the past three decades, computers have been adapted to perform a multitude of manufacturing tasks, displacing humans in their jobs, primarily for economic reasons. This new industrial revolution is much like that of the nineteenth century, where large numbers of people had to change the fundamental basis of their lives, and adapt to technological innovation.
Arguments for the introduction of more computers in manufacturing mention the benefit to the workers in providing a more “humane” environment, i.e. leass really hard work, less tedious of dull jobs, and no dangerous environments. Proponents of computers and industrial robots are also very quick to point out the economic advantages, which include more consistent quality, low running costs (a lot lower than the cost of wages for an equivalent number of workers), no strikes, no coffee breaks, and, in general a higher cost effectiveness.
Unfortunately, the computer is not normally used to fulfill new jobs in an industry, but rather to replace the less efficient human. As such, the implementation of computer technology in manufacturing will definitely create job dislocation but not necessarily unemployment, although this seems inevitable.
Like many facets of accelerating technological growth, the computer in manufacturing is one which has to be watched closely and managed to prevent undesirable effects.
The paper itself is 19 pages – double-spaced typing.