Jessica Lin
Nov 18, 2017 · 3 min read
Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

As a VC, I’ve been researching and tracking technologies broadly within the “Future of Work” space. Ask any VC and you’ll get different responses as to what Future of Work covers — be it collaboration, productivity, AR/VR, RPA, and more. So I thought I’d share some of our early learnings at Work-Bench, which are ever-evolving — we’d love to hear from you, and to continue to learn.

As an enterprise-focused VC fund, we invest in startups selling into large enterprise customers, and we engage regularly with Fortune 500 line of business buyers.

I was recently invited to join a great panel hosted by New America NYC, on the theme of Future of Work, featuring Rick Wartzman’s new book: The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America.

We covered a wide swath of topics that surrounds this complex issue: the decline of unions, depressed wages, education, healthcare, the changing role of employers’ responsibilities.

I talked about the unique confluence of my own personal perspectives — as VC investing in technologies that are disrupting and transforming work; as a long-time GED educator, teaching at the 1199 SEIU Labor Union; advising LaGuardia Community College on student and workforce development initiatives; and even formerly having worked at Cisco Systems within their Learning and Development (corporate training) team.

Where I spend a lot of time thinking about at Work-Bench is this theme of human-centered AI.

Amidst the doom and gloom that AI and machines will take away our jobs…there will be some period of time when data platforms can help enable and augment humans: to be more efficient and effective. To do our jobs better, faster, and happier. And/or to free us up to do work that is more complex, creative, compelling.

How can we ensure AI is built with a human-centered and empathic approach? Where we are not trying to remove or automate away the human, but rather, use their input and knowledge to better train the AI systems and models; to unlock and enhance our human abilities to make otherwise inaccessible data-driven actions and decisions; and to be developed with the expertise, experiences, and insights of humans in mind?

Drew Conway, CEO of Alluvium, articles this idea of empathy in data best:

Some examples of startups helping to remove really painful, repetitive, and manual work:

  • Upskill — smart glass wearable solution that helps line technicians better assemble complex manufacturing parts through their hands-free, voice command viewfinder (and literally removes painful repetitive motion:
  • — virtual assistant who helps remove the pain of scheduling (and rescheduling) meetings

Some great examples of software augmenting humans to do their jobs better:

  • Alluvium — helps enable industrial operators by providing more data and insights around production stability
  • Merlon Intelligence — helps compliance analysts more effectively monitor transactions for money laundering by surfacing suspicious activity

Do you know other companies in this space using a human-centered approach to building AI, data analytics, and automation? I’d love to chat.

*All of the above companies are Work-Bench portfolio companies.


Work-Bench is an enterprise technology VC fund in NYC. We support early go-to-market enterprise startups with community, workspace, and corporate engagement.

Jessica Lin

Written by

co-founder & VC @Work_Bench | GED educator | rethinking work


Work-Bench is an enterprise technology VC fund in NYC. We support early go-to-market enterprise startups with community, workspace, and corporate engagement.

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