Ai and automation explained to the average person

The rise of artificial intelligence and automation

Rapid technological innovation across all business sectors has resulted in machine learning and automated processes becoming vital components of the business world. But how did we get here?

1784: The industrial revolution 1

Steam-powered factories When Edmund Cartwright invented the first mechanical loom in 1784, spinning yarn and weaving cloth became much easier. Production ramped up and the need for human labour went down.

1870: The industrial revolution 2

Mass-production model One of the earliest production lines was a slaughterhouse in Cincinnati, which facilitated mass production by dividing labour and using electrical energy to increase capacity.

1969: Industrial revolution 3

Computer-driven systems The first programmable logic controller was designed in 1969. It was a breakthrough invention that used electronics and IT to automate manufacturing further.

Today: Industrial revolution 4

Smart connected environment We now have so much data at our fingertips, humans can no longer manage the information alone. Machines are an integral part of our daily lives.

How it works

  • Humans work on higher value-adding tasks.
  • AI learns through complex algorithms to provide data insights that help ongoing improvements.
  • Automation manages repetitive tasks in an agile manner to reduce time wastage.

The aim

  • Manage costs
  • Reduce errors
  • Become more agile
  • Gain insights

Industry examples


Digital banks and loan-issuing apps use machine-learning algorithms to use alternative data (for example, smartphone data) to evaluate loan eligibility and provide personalised options.


Image analysis and various administrative tasks, such as filing and charting, help to reduce the cost of labour. This allows medical staff to focus on caring for their patients.


The rise of AI in education has enabled the automatic grading of online courses, which anyone with an internet connection can access.


By using sophisticated algorithms to analyse machine data regularly, AI systems can assess a machine’s condition and detect irregularities to make predictive maintenance possible.

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About Garth Jemmett

Garth Jemmett is the founder of We Explain Stuff. He helps business leaders escape complexity by making strategies, processes, products and services easy to understand.

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