FACULTAD DE INGENIERÍA, U.T.A. (CHILE), VOL. 11 Nº1, 2003,
UBIQUITY OF AUTOMATICS IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY
have written about the great scientific discoveries and advanced technological
developments of civilization and epoch. Also, people daily use and enjoy
many services and amenities derived from science, engineering and technology.
However, there seems to be little knowledge and acknowledgment of the
inherent, widespread and symbiotic role of Automatics and Automatic Control,
in all areas of human activity.
times humans have had to govern or exercise control over their environment,
a task, which is not precisely exciting. The control of fire and domestic
animals as well as the government of clans and societies, among other
examples, seem somehow natural and have been accomplished by Man himself.
In more recent times, in ancient Egypt, for example, it became necessary
to replace workers with mechanical devices of "automatic" action,
in functions or jobs of a heavy, or repetitive nature.
or the government of city-states, according to Plato and Aristotle has
its 20th Century equivalent in the term "Cybernetics," coined
by N. Wiener, meaning "automatic control of the animal and the machine."
Nevertheless, this term has been used by other authors in the sense of
"Computation", so perhaps It is better to use the word "Automatics"
to designate "science, technology and operations of automatic control
in all areas." Presently, there are many scientific and professional
Societies devoted to the study of theories, technologies and applications
principles of Automatics are those of environmental measurement, comparison
with a reference, feedback, optimization and others. These principles
are present in practically all human, animal, vegetal and natural activities
and processes. For example, in the human body there are many types of
automatic control or regulation, that make life possible. As it is known,
there have been several types of artificial substitute organs that have
been developed based on Automatics.
there are many automatic devices that are used to control the operation
of water tanks, refrigerators, heaters, lighting and alarms, as well as
systems that are used to control radio and television sets, computers,
telephones, cellular phones and other equipment.
transmission and distribution systems found in electrical, water or gas
companies, operate automatically or with a variety of automatic control
devices. Several types of vehicles, ships, aircraft, trains and subways
that, if necessary, are operated automatically or with the help of many
automatic control systems. Likewise, Automatics are essential in computer
networks, communication systems and management of institutions, enterprises,
nations, and military resources.
have permanently maintained a symbiotic relationship with science and
technology. This discipline has always made good use of scientific discoveries
and advancements in technology and engineering. Nonetheless, this has
not been a one way action as, in reciprocity, Automatics have made possible
the automatic control or regulation of machines, engines, laboratories
and systems for new advancements in those areas. For example, it would
be impossible to control the Hubble Space Observatory without automatic
devices, even those of a virtual nature. The same can be said about astronomical
observatories, nuclear reactors, non-conventional energy generators and
break through research in medicine, genetics, bioengineering, robotics,
mechatronics, micro devices, automatic-guided vehicles, automated manufacturing
and many other systems or disciplines.
many varieties of Automatic control; among others: linear, non-linear,
multivariable, adaptive, distributed, distributed-parameter, optimal,
robust, reconfigurable, fuzzy, neuronal, genetic or evolutionary. Automatics
employ practically all of the principles or methods found in physics and
mathematics and many of chemistry and other disciplines or specialties.
Conversely, Automatics sometimes generate reciprocal contribution by inspiring
new fields or methods in those disciplines.
drawback attributed to Automatics, Automation and Automatic Control is
that, in the initial stages, they cause unemployment. However, it has
been demonstrated that they later generate many new jobs that require
higher levels of knowledge and better skills . Automatics and its derivatives
are indispensable in tasks that are dangerous, heavy or repetitive, or
in jobs of a continuous nature, precision and repeatability. They are
also essential when there are frequent changes in manufacturing different
types of products.
Juan Hernández S.