An often under-appreciated point: observation shows us events, but it does not show us processes or forces. An observation describes the state of an object at a given moment; a series of observations shows us stepwise changes in the momentary state of an object. But an observation is inherently a snapshot of reality in which motion and direction and connection may be implied, but are not shown. I've always felt this was the root of the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics. If we (say) take a picture of a quarterback throwing a pass, we can sharpen the exposure to make the quarterback and football clear and precise, but then we can't tell whether the QB is actually throwing the ball or just posing statically. If we loosen the exposure we see the QBs body and arm start to blur, indicating motion, but only at the cost of precision and clarity. This can be a little confusing because the 'moment' of an observational snapshot is actually a short elapse of time compressed together as though it were a single instant: i.e., two observations might partially overlap if the time between them is small compared to the elapse that is compressed into the 'moment', leading to odd data issues. But all we get from an observation are these singular, momentary points.
Of course, what we want to talk about is the processes, systems, structures, forces, or what-you-will that these momentary snapshots are snapshots of. If we pull out that QB photo, we don't usually want to talk about the details of the photo itself, like the color of the jersey or the placement of the QB's feet. We want to be able to say something like "That picture shows Trent throwing the winning touchdown in the 2014 inter-varsity championships", something that embeds that moment in a continuous ongoing process that has relevance and meaning beyond what the photo can show. And so we build theories, which are narratives about what's happening under the hood such that we see the momentary observations that we see. This is fairly obvious with the Theory of Evolution, where what we have is an assortment of fossils and biological samples that show correspondences (our momentary observations from across millennia, in rough temporal order), and where we assert that these correspondences reflect an ongoing, continuous process of evolution from one form to the next. If it's less obvious with physics, that's only because we have a harder time seeing the 'narrative' aspect of mathematics (though anyone who thinks about how Newton derived the calculus will probably see it).
We can build machines that make observations. That is the purpose of most scientific instruments: to expand the limited human perceptual field to observe things we could not otherwise see. We can even use machines to automate those observations, so that we can go off and have coffee or see a movie while it chugs away. But (short of some quasi-mythological AI) a machine cannot reflect on the underlying processes that produce those observations. Say we had a movie of a quarterback throwing a pass. A machine could certainly record observations from each frame; it could probably (with modern software) pick out individual players, and possibly track the ball from frame to frame as a distinct object. But could a machine take those observations and theorize that there was some kind of contest involved that spans these individual frames: a contest with underlying rules and goals and structures, that causes the frames to happen in the way they do? Those things cannot be observed from the frames themselves, and there is no way to program a non-intelligent machine to 'automatically' draw them out of the combined observations.