AI ILLUMINATIONS: Overcoming Fear of Automation


The word ‘sabotage’ has its roots in this struggle—European workers in the 18th and 19th centuries would disrupt production using their wooden shoes, sabots. In the Americas, through the early 20th century, industrial magnates like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford introduced innovations in their business processes above the concerned voices of laborers and philosophers.

We like to think that the early 21st century is a more enlightened time. But even today’s innovative automation experts face many of the same challenges as their forebears did while describing what they do, according to Michael Partnow, Group President, Wealth Management at, a no-code autonomous financial enterprise platform.

“People hear ‘automation’ and their first thought is often ‘reduced headcount’, but that shouldn’t be our reason for applying automation within a business,” says Partnow. “At the end of the day, people matter. Investing in ourselves and each other should be paramount. It certainly is here at We’re looking to disrupt with incredible compassion.”

Disrupting With Compassion

Today, even the term ‘disruptor’ is fraught with images of lay-offs and empty storefronts, says Partnow, which is why he takes extra care to describe not as a job-destroying villain, but as a hero that can transform work into something more enjoyable for employees.’s goal is to help businesses transform themselves into technology-powered ‘autonomous organizations.’

“The autonomous organization is all about efficiencies, consistency, and greater experiences,” Partnow says. “If we approach this with the mindset that we’re all about reducing headcount, we end up with the polar opposite of our mission. It is to create environments that allow people to really think and not spend their time processing and doing the mundane tasks that computers should be doing.”

Think back to Henry Ford and the turn-of-the-20th-century industrialists. Before they implemented machine-assisted assembly lines, production was slow, and work was tedious and even dangerous. Over time, companies like Toyota and Hyundai augmented their industrial innovations with computers and robotics, creating more productive, safer, and more consistent assembly lines.

Most of those early industrial companies did not reduce headcount as they matured and scaled, but went on to become some of the 20th century’s largest employers.

A Modern Example

Another good example of automation and innovation transforming industries can be found in Amazon. It has grown from an online, web-based bookstore to become the world’s largest and most effective logistics organization and a one-stop-shop for almost any consumer need. Amazon is now in the process of spreading its innovations to other industries.

“Amazon is a prime (pun intended), example of changing the world for the better,” says Partnow. “They’re now implementing auto-checkout throughout the supermarket industry, and bringing in drones to deliver packages and food faster, and with greater fuel efficiency. These are all examples of Amazon finding ways to use machines to do the tasks that people once did, but no longer want to do. Automation is freeing up the mindscapes of millions of people and prompting them to think more creatively about what they want to do next.” is helping the financial services industry to automate the mundane and manual tasks such as clerical and data entry tasks.

“People don’t really want most of these entry-level jobs that are menial in nature, like data processing or document management,” says Partnow. “These jobs don’t require much skill, and they’re very repetitive. The next generation doesn’t want to do these things with their time, they’re not looking to start with those kinds of positions.”

An Industry In Need

The “great resignation” has seen millions of people abandon jobs that consist of mostly menial tasks in sub-standard work environments with poor user experiences. Even the older generations balk at many menial jobs, says Partnow. Retention will increasingly be a challenge—firms will struggle to keep employees who do not feel fulfilled by their work, and younger generations are more likely to define fulfillment well beyond financial compensation.

The recent resignation trend indicates that the financial services industry may see its existing labor shortage exacerbated, as older practitioners retire and new workers avoid unattractive entry-level positions. An intelligent automation platform like, which helps companies create their own technological workflows to replace what were once manual processes, has the ability to help fill the gap.

But some jobs will never be replaced by technology, says Partnow.

“We want to marry what machines do best with what humans do best, which is to provide empathy and compassion,” he says. “A machine can’t walk you through the difficult times in your life, it cannot console you after the death of a loved one, or have a challenging conversation with you because you didn’t save as much for your child’s education as you could have, or explain to you why you can’t retire early. Machines can provide information, but they’re not good at messaging. Today, the financial advisor is wearing the hat of a therapist, a consultant, and a confidant. We all need someone who can take us through life’s journey, and who knows our challenges and desires.” is committed to implementing technology with compassion and empathy, Partnow reiterates. These aren’t mere hollow corporate slogans. A non-profit organization, The Painini Foundation, was founded in tandem with to help train and retrain the workers of tomorrow, who will work alongside automation.

“We should be doing this globally, as people, working to lift each other up,” says Partnow. “Yes, at, automation, technology and advancement are our key revenue drivers, but we’re reinvesting a portion of the revenue back to help people. If more organizations took this approach, the world would definitely be a better place, we think.”