Q. Do you have any fears that your role and similar jobs in financial services could be laid off in the not too distant future due to advances in artificial intelligence?
There is no doubt that AI is changing the world and these changes present risks. But change also brings opportunities and better ways of doing things. Some roles will be lost, but many new ones will be created; it’s about keeping a close eye on technology and anticipating potential threats before they come knocking on your door.
It’s also important to remember that not all AI is designed in a way that it will replace humans in a similar way. There are many ‘augmentative’ AI projects in development that are designed to boost human capabilities without replacing them.
One of the most promising areas where AI could augment human capabilities is healthcare. Infervision is a Chinese company creating AI capable of using machine learning and visual recognition software to diagnose lung cancer from CT scans and X-rays. Infervision hopes its AI can provide a safety net for overburdened doctors. job.
Google is working on technology that will help diagnose diabetic retinopathy, the fastest growing cause of blindness, which is a threat to 415 million diabetic patients worldwide. world. If caught early, the disease can be treated, but there are not enough trained medical experts available to detect it.
In tests, Google’s deep learning algorithms have performed at least as well as ophthalmologists and in the future could help healthcare workers test many more patients in resource-limited areas of the world.
Google researchers found that their AI could not only diagnose eye diseases, but could also detect patterns in the eye that could be used to predict the risk of a heart attack or stroke with up to 70% accuracy, just below 72% accuracy. of orthodox blood analysis techniques currently in use.
AI is now driving machines too. Amazon acquired robotics company Kiva for $775 million in 2012. Kiva, now renamed Amazon Robotics, automated picking and packing at the company’s warehouses, substantially reducing average click-to-ship times, from around an hour for a human to 15 minutes for the AI system, and reducing operating costs by around 20%.
However, the concern of many is that the capabilities of AI are spreading further into the realms of human work.
Driverless transportation poses a threat. Research firm IHS Markit predicts that by 2040, 33 million driverless vehicles will be sold worldwide, accounting for a quarter of all vehicle sales. With just under 300,000 licensed taxi drivers in the UK in 2017, human drivers will have a hard time competing with potentially cheaper and safer machine alternatives.
Despite some concerns, we should not be too pessimistic, argues Sir Nigel Shadbolt, a professor of computer science at Oxford University and recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on the subject. Disruptive technology almost always creates more jobs than we predict. He jokes that his “mom wasn’t a search optimization engineer…Now there are full jobs we never thought of.”
And in the case of AI, there will almost certainly be a transition period in which the human hand will tentatively guide full automation. Logistics companies can retrain staff to be at either end of freight transportation, like a pilot handling the takeoff and landing of an airplane. Similarly, a single worker can keep an eye on more than 10 or 20 AIs in a call center.
It’s also impossible to ignore the extent to which our perception of AI is rooted in mid-20th century science fiction. Creatives with inordinate expectations and experts with extraordinary predictions make for a rich creative soup, and movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey were hugely successful, informing generations of audiences about what to expect from AI.
Today, much of the public perception of AI continues to be disproportionately informed by fiction. AI means so much more than the anthropomorphic humanoid forms we see in movies. It reaches every corner of our lives and has been worked on incrementally by computer scientists for decades.
The next ‘AI revolution’ will affect us all and will be as disruptive to society as the Industrial Revolution. It could be said that it offers many more benefits than threats; But those threats exist, and we will have to be vigilant against them.
Q. In your day-to-day experience helping clients achieve their financial goals and ambitions, how important do you think they place on making a positive impact in the world through their investments? Do you think they view this as separate or integral to their sense of financial health and security?
I have been in the industry for over 18 years and during that time I have made a big difference in the way people invest. The idea that your money should have a positive impact on the world, while generating returns, has grown in the last 10 years.
We see this daily at Rathbones and often have clients come to us, not because they find our ESG credentials important, but because they know the next generation will too. I think it’s also important to note that when I started 18 years ago, ESG investing was in its infancy.
It was a style that generally required investors to take more risk and the companies in general, they were still quite small and the choice was not very wide. ESG investing is now much more established and people can invest to create positive change, while still receiving a financial return. Not everyone puts these themes at the forefront of their investing style, but for those who do, it seems to be an integral part of their sense of financial health.
Q. If you knew at age 25 what you know now when it comes to financial planning and investment opportunities, what would you do differently, personally speaking, in terms of a long-term approach to financial security and ethical investing?
My mother had me later in life and I spent my teenage years with friends of my parents who received benefits at their retirement. I decided pretty early on that I didn’t want to end up there myself. In fact, I built my pension on my first paycheck, very rock and roll. I also started my career in ethical investing, it has been my passion for many years.
I think I would tell anyone over the age of 25 to start saving as soon as you can, even if it’s a small amount. The power of compounding will really make a difference. Second, I would recommend following your heart, if ESG investing is important to you, look for an investment option that reflects your passions.
The bottom line, though, is that you don’t need to sacrifice investment growth for morale. Finally, and I wish my friends had done this more often, is questioning things. If your performance hasn’t been great for a while, don’t accept it, ask questions, and if the answers aren’t enough, look to move your money elsewhere.