To carry out this checking work, extensive use is made of computers, simple automatic calculators consisting of only two or three feed-back control loops and connected to measuring instruments. They thoroughly test every working process. Drilled holes are measured. Polished surfaces are tested for regularity. Faulty parts are sorted out. If defective components accumulate, the computer does not just blindly throw the parts concerned on to the scrap-heap without worrying as to whether any sound items at all will get as far as the exit. No, it then gives information to an electronic colleague who takes a good look at the processing tool concerned and adjusts it. If the adjustment still fails to bring about any improvement, the computer notifies the engineer on duty by ringing a bell. It also supplies him with a report in writing to tell him where, for example, to find out what is wrong with drilling machine number three, where - presumably because of a stoppage in the coolant supply - the third drill from the left has been running hot and is broken.
It is possible to build the electronic checkers in a more complicated way and to teach them so that they can always learn something new from any mishaps that may occur. They can be fitted with further helpful devices to replace the broken drill with a new one and supply the latter with coolant from a new pipe. It is always possible to extend the working range of the electronic inspectors still further. They can be trained so that they not only keep watch, for instance, on the manufacture of cough syrup, check its sugar content and if necessary add three teaspoons of refined sugar, but so that they also supervise the plant's stocks of raw materials, order fresh consignments of sugar from Hawaii or Jamaica - according to the state of the market - independently order essences from other chemical plants, arrange for dispatch to store customers and investigate complaints. All that is possible - in fact, it has already been worked out on paper and treated in trade journals and newspapers. But it is often overlooked that a combination of computers capable of such feats would swallow up so much money, in addition to the cost of the appropriate programs, that it would hardly be possible for decades ahead to put the manufacture of cough syrup on a paying basis.
However, it is not necessary to start an immediate electronic search for patients in need of cough syrup. Contrivances for that purpose already exist: electronic diagnosers.