WILL DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGIES LEAD TOWARDS DYSTOPIA OR UTOPIA?

Wealth Management & Private Banking

Wealth Management & Private Banking

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Expert: Rod Bryson, Capgemini

Facilitator: Seb Dovey

Key message 

Recent implications of technological advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence and crypto  currencies were analysed. Attendees concluded that technology will neither lead to dystopia nor utopia, but rather to a blend of technological solutions lead by human intuition and judgement. To encourage innovation within the wealth sector, the industry needs to stop being defensive and instead work together collaboratively. 

Headlines 

  • Most current progress is evident in the area of robotics, but the main focus is cost reduction rather than developing
  • Major developments in artificial intelligence have been achieved even though they are far from becoming mainstream yet, e.g. Google artificial intelligence program was able to win in ancient “Go”
  • Majority of attendees agreed that despite recent technological developments human judgement and intuition cannot be replaced
  • Wealth industry cannot resist the necessity to innovate and, in order to do so, needs to encourage collaboration.

 Key themes

 The session opened with an expert view on new developments in technology and claims that “technology will have a massive impact, even on industries and markets one would least expect” 

Currently, most of the progress is evident in the area of robotics. The main focus of robotics is to   tackle cost reduction rather than developing expertise. While developments in cognitive robotics and    AI are slower and not mainstream yet, the advances are  remarkable.  Blockchain  and  crypto  currencies are a “slow burn innovation”, but once it becomes inter-connective across  multiple  platforms it will disrupt many  industries. 

Another attendee agreed that “technological utopia” might not be as far away as general belief suggests and used his experience of arranging an appointment with a Fintech partner as an example. All communication regarding scheduling of the meeting was arranged by “Joanne” - it was a shock for him to realise that “Joanne” is actually a programmed AI assistant and not a person. 

Another attendee further reinforced this view and used the well-documented case of the IBM Blue Machine winning over a chess master as an example of machine learning capabilities: 

“The chess master was astonished to see moves he had never seen before and acknowledged that he himself is learning from the machine. But the caveat is that the machine will ultimately learn faster.” 

That AI has real learning potential was proven recently when a Google artificial intelligence won the complex ancient game of “GO”. This demonstrates the potential of cognitive learning of robotics is beginning to be discovered. Attendees acknowledged that a utopian perspective would lead to universal income and make producing goods and services a responsibility of machines, while a dystopian perspective would lead to massive unemployment and social unrest. 

Ford car manufacturing was used as an example of major technological change that was believed to make factory workers obsolete. At the time critics were posing the question - “who is going to buy [Ford’s] cars?”, suggesting that majority of workforce will be made redundant and therefore have no  discretionary income left to spend on cars. However, their fears did not materialise and instead job content was reinvented. Another attendee reinforced this view by suggesting that 

“the human mind is endlessly creative and the right use of machines will lead to an explosion of creativity”. 

The majority of attendees agreed that, despite recent technological developments, human judgement and intuition cannot be easily replaced. Customers will always want a blend of reason and judgement supported by accurate technological solutions. The wealth industry cannot resist the necessity to innovate and, in order to do so, needs to start working together and stop being defensive. Technology can further help the industry to become more transparent and address the needs of customers in more efficient ways. 


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