Doubting that automation really reduces errors
Here's a personal reflection unsubstantiated by any research: I really doubt that automation reduces errors. And yet that is often the reason touted for automating processes. In our IT management world, we often hear automation pushed as the panacea for preventing outages, security lapses, and so on. I don't buy it.
I'm all for automation, if and only if there is a business case for it. There are good reasons to automate: speed, scale, and of course cost reduction.
But I doubt automation reduces errors. I think it reduces their frequency but much amplifies their magnitude, with a nett result that not much is changed. Humans make small frequent errors, many of which are picked up by themselves or their peers - manual systems are self-correcting systems. Automated systems are not - in general - self-correcting. If they mess up they will continue to mess up until someone notices, by which time the mess can be considerable. And when the automated system itself fails - as they all inevitably will - the impact of a failed system is major because we have automated for speed and/or scale.
Every error is human.
(Once every petagazillion machine instructions, one hiccups due to a cosmic ray flipping the bit. I'm neglecting those).
Automation does not reduce the nett effect of human error. It results in fewer bigger errors. You could say automation dams up error. If the dam breaks...
Process improvement reduces the nett impact of errors, not automation.