There’s no getting away from it, artificial intelligence is already everywhere.
From the lofty (DeepMind applying AI to improve the NHS), to the mundane (“Alexa, put Love Island on”) it’s got a role to play in every area of our lives.
While the classic refrain focuses on how jobs will be lost to the robots, it’s not all doom and gloom for the human race explains Jason Hill, financial services expert at PA Consulting. AI may take over repetitive, data intensive, low value work, but there are challenges (and opportunities) that will always need a human brain to act on.
So, the future is likely to be a blend of people and technology – teams of people and AI working together to help the financial industry ride with gusto into the future.
Banking leaders will need to evolve the way they look at resourcing. They must be able to distribute responsibility and tasks to both humans and AI, understanding the strengths of each approach, while meeting people’s short and long-term aspirations. For human-AI collaboration and creativity, leaders will create a culture of trust while managing smaller human teams with different skills, career aspirations and behaviours.
As these behaviours change, we can imagine a future world where whole new departments begin to emerge.
Doing things right, or doing the right thing?
With AI handling more activity in banks with less human supervision, new risks will emerge. Banks and regulators will need to get much smarter about how they identify and respond to these risks.
With AI often learning poor behaviours as readily as good, banks must avoid AI acting unethically and therefore discriminating against certain groups. Prosecution is a real possibility if this is not managed carefully.
To understand the risks, you only need to look at Microsoft’s experiment with a social media AI bot. It adopted extremist views within 24 hours, showing the need for a clear rules-based approach, and regular assessment of the direction of travel, to keep AI’s moral compass true.
Enter, the Department of Ethics and the Chief Ethics Officer. We might find that philosophy degrees suddenly have a much greater relevance for financial services. Ethics officers would keep the machines in check, and ensure self-learning algorithms didn’t adopt dangerous ethical principles.
The truth is out there… but it’s getting harder to find
AI isn’t the only trend that’s changing our world these days. We are now living in the ‘post-truth’ era. An era which has seen stocks artificially promoted or crashed due to ‘fake news’ created by people or AI. The alarming reality of fake news has even pervaded recent national elections. And the vulnerability inherent in the new AI-driven world will mean we need to address facts with increasing levels of scepticism.
“Our platformed and algorithmically optimized world is vulnerable — to propaganda, to misinformation, to dark targeted advertising from foreign governments — so much so that it threatens to undermine a cornerstone of human discourse: the credibility of fact.” Aviv Ovadyam Chief Technologist at the Center for Social Media Responsibility (UMSI)
In the future, banks might decide they need to hire an outside consultant from the ‘Fake News Detective Agency’ to help them sift through news to find the truth. To help them sort real cyber threats from fake ones. Or to help them decide whether stock promotions are ethical or not.
Data, data, data
AI creates and feeds on data, but it’s still humans who can see the ‘real’ insight. Thick data – the qualitative gathering and analysis of human stories – has been used by ethnographers to not only understand people better, but also predict future trends that standard ‘big data’ can miss.
So today, we’ve heard of data scientists and the intense demand for their skills. But in the future, we might begin to see a need for data artists.
We’ll still need data scientists to set the algorithms, but data artists will check whether the machine-generated hypotheses are valid, and meet the core principles of the institution, regulator and perhaps society.
As AI eats more data and finds greater and wider correlations between disparate data sets, artists would use thick data to create stories that explain the situation.
So, it might be time to start brushing up your CV.
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