AUTOMATISM (Greek ’αυτοματισμος [automatismos]—accident, fortuitousness)—a property of an object consisting in the ability to operate in a stable manner in certain circumstances without the participation or control of consciousness. Automatism may be ascribed to living organisms, in particular to human individuals and groups, and also, mutatis mutandis to technical machines, e.g., automatism of behavior, automatism of motion, psychological automatism, where a distinction is made between innate and acquired automatism.

Automatism may be described by the expressions reflexive, unknowing, unintentional, and habitual.

PHYSIOLOGICAL-MEDICAL AUTOMATISM. This is the ability of an organ—as well as tissues and cells—to function without stimuli outside their own structure, e.g., the automatism of the heart, or the automatism of the respiratory system.

CYBERNETIC AUTOMATISM. This is identified with automation, i.e., with the theory and practice of constructing machines that act on their own (automata) or entire groups of automata, in order to replace human labor or accelerate operations and the quality of their effects, e.g., the automation of production, calculations, programming, and logical proof.

The proper principle for classification of automata is their degree of automatism. We may speak of seven degrees of automatism: (1) strictly determined operation; (2) coordination of a cycle of operations; (3) consideration of the influence of certain accidental conditions; (4) self-regulation; (5) the ability to maintain a relatively stable state of equilibrium (homeostasis); (6) self-limitation; (7) a mechanism of evolution.

P. de Latil, Sztuczne myślenie [Artificial thinking], Wwa 1958; J. Rose, Automation, E, Lo 1967; E. Miętkowski, Zarys fizjologii lekarskiej [Outline of medical physiology], Wwa 19843.

Mieczysław Lubański

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