Automation is wonderful when viewed from the position of production or manufacturing (or at least those in charge of it.) Consumers, for all of their complaints about outsourcing and job losses, are often the first to emphatically embrace the fruits of automation.
Likewise, automation has made my own career easier. Hardware is now designed to interface with a PC, allowing for button mashing to control a test whereas in the days of non-network analog mayhem, one would have to do everything, egads, by hand! The benefits in regards to reduced production or test time are obvious.
Automation, though, aside from taking away the need for humans in many ways (aside from the guy who greases the motor) has also had an adverse effect for technology. I know that sounds contradictory but allow me to explain: as things become automated, the knowledge of the process is reduced to a technical secret between programmers. Nobody will understand what is going on beyond the select few who set up the system. In a sense, we are putting all of our eggs in one basket and that can have disastrous results.
To quote Uncle Ben of Spiderman: "With great power comes great responsibility."