The Problem With Automation

Automation is amazing. I was just telling my pastor about the perks of the Twitter timer I use. I love being able to schedule my engagement. It decreases my screen time and still makes sure that I’m properly branded.

Ok, now that I’ve sang it’s praises, let’s look at the problem with it: human error. I suppose that’s not a problem with the technology but, because we fail to factor humanity into our great technological enhancements, we’re always going to fall short of perfection. One example is the time I set my coffee timer, put the coffee in the maker, added the water, and woke up the next morning to grainy brown water. Why? Oh yeah, I didn’t put the filter in before the coffee.

Or, an example from this morning is the e-mail I got from a non-profit that I’ve supported letting me know that today is the day to make my Giving Tuesday donation. Ummm… sir, as someone who spent half a decade in the field of development, I can guarantee you that Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. And I’m sure the solicitor knows that too. What the automation system he used doesn’t know is that his hand slipped when he was setting the auto-timer and there was no failsafe to catch the mistake. That probably cost the nonprofit some money, caused some embarrassment and, if nothing else, in the hour and a half since I got the e-mail, I’m willing to bet he’s gotten at least 5 e-mails letting him know he’s wrong (I’m not one of them but I thought about it).

Automation is great but, as long as humans have their hands on it, things will still mess up. Sometimes it’s better to do things the old fashioned way. Or, another great option is to couple the two when you can. Write the e-mail, sit it in your draft folder and have Siri remind you when to hit sent. Just an idea.


Make managing human error a priority.


Why I Do What I Do

Thanks to technological advances and enhanced forms of communication, as society grows more conscious of conditions across world, we are becoming increasingly aware of both the impressive successes of and enormous challenges facing humankind. Whereas we are doing much more for those across the world than ever before, we still have a long way to go. No one who wants to eat should be without food. No one who wants shelter should be without a home. No one who wants to learn should be illiterate. Yet there are the hungry, the homeless, and the illiterate, both domestically and overseas. I believe that the answers to these problems does not lie only in the economic or public policy sectors but also in the education of the next generation.

I am in the field of development because it restores my faith in humanity. Every family at the parents at the private PK-8 school I work at already pays tuition and yet, in recent years, between 80% and 90% of those families choose to give back annually. Do you know what that does? It offsets the cost of education for some families, improves technological resources, and adds to the professional development of the faculty and staff here so that their students and others can go on to solve problems such as hunger, poverty, homelessness, and other pressing issues. I believe that one of these students will play a role in ending world hunger or improving access to information across the world. True, they may not. But what if they do? And what if it’s a student who is on indexed tuition? And what if my dollars helped close the gap so that (s)he could be here? That is why I fundraise and that is why I give back to this school, my alma mater, and my church. Because I believe not only in what they do but also the communities and constituents that they serve.

Today is #GivingTuesday across the world. Put the hashtag into your search bar on Twitter or Instagram and you will see the conversation about how important it is to give back in the world’s 3 most important currencies: time, money, and love. Which will you donate today?

And, if you don’t know who to give to {or if you just want to make an additional gift}, I beseech you to consider make a small contribution to Duke School by clicking here.

Make giving back a priority.


*If you happen to click this link after Nov. 29, don’t worry, your donation is still just as important and just as acceptable.