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Some Things Just Can’t be Automated

Some Things Just Can’t be Automated

It’s tough to have a conversation without checking the Internet.  We try to remember movies, facts, dates, and determine the best brand of this or that on a daily basis.  Nowadays, we can simply ask a question by verbalizing what we want or need to know. We simply summon Alexa, Siri, or Google and a device will literally hear you and answer your question.

My kids, 6 and 9 years old, won’t remember a world where you couldn’t just call out and have all the answers. Alright, that might be a bit of an exaggeration.

The kids love to hear what the devices have to say in response to their queries.  They ask a million silly questions and never get tired of waiting for the response, no matter how ridiculous the answer.

If you are one of the many early adopters who have grown reliant upon this pioneering and quickly evolving gem that is voice recognition-driven automated search, you are likely aware that there is still work to be done. While Alexa may be able to give you the forecast with a quick yell across the room, the problems with deciphering what someone is saying and finding the appropriate context and response still exist.  In reality though, it’s only a matter of time before those issues get worked out and the technology advances.  Even more apparent is the fact that most things we want and need to know will be nothing but a single spoken question away.

The future of automation is exciting and imminent; relying less upon human cognition and instinct is equally as imminent, but is more of a frightening thought. Will we be replaced by our devices?  In some cases, maybe so.  But there are things that only people can do. Some things are interpersonal.  The human element involves emotion, interpretation, tone, and understanding.

Some things, like philanthropy, just can’t be automated. Sure, you can donate online or contribute at a cash register as you purchase your groceries; but for real impact, you need the human touch.  You need to know someone who can relate to your values and help decipher the connection between what you care about and the cause or causes most important to you.  You need to be able to communicate your personal experience to another who can help align you with your cause.  You need someone you can trust.

So how does someone determine a cause to support, or even where to begin? You can research online.  You can ask Siri or Alexa to help navigate the world of philanthropy, but even the most advanced technology won’t be able to decipher what will make the difference you wish to see in the world; there aren’t too many resources that can direct you without engaging directly with a person or a group of people who have the tools, know-how, and relationships to find viable solutions.

Here at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, we’re real people.  We try to automate what we can to increase our efficiency and create a reliable, trustworthy service for our region, but mostly we customize what we do to support the hopes and dreams of our donors.  We know our communities and region and are committed to making Southwest Florida a better place now and into the future that will surely have challenges we cannot even imagine today.

As you receive your Cyber Monday purchases of this or that cool gadget, enjoy them and revel in the amazing things that humans can create.  Then remind yourself, some things just can’t be automated.  Giving is one of them.


The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $5.4 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $115 million, it has provided more than $71 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. Currently, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are located off College Parkway in South Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit





Tessa Lesage
Tessa Lesage