MAXX Coverage: The ‘Dark Side’ Of Artificial Intelligence…

TACOMA, Wash.–Despite all its promise, there is a “dark side” to the future of artificial intelligence, according to one person.

Patrick Schwerdfeger, a business futurist on technology trends and author, told the Northwest Credit Union Association’s MAXX Conference here credit unions need to be prepared for how AI is going to play out in three different scenarios.

But first, he said it’s important to define what AI is, as often what’s referred to as AI is really just “good analytics,” he said. “Really, AI is two things,” he told the meeting: The first is some human-level comprehension, and the second is some ability to learn.”

That human level comprehension and ability to learn in machines can have negative implications, and they are not in some mythical dystopian future, he cautioned, but in many cases already here.

The three primary “dark sides” to watch, he said, are:

Job Displacement

“This is very real and coming quicker than people think,” he said. “The number of finance employees per billion dollars in revenue was already down 40% between 2004-2014. People think this job displacement is in the future, but it’s already here with platforms and enterprise software. Earlier this year in China, they opened the first person-less bank. Here in the Northwest, we have the Amazon Go stores with no cashiers. There are 3.4 million cashiers in the country; think of the incentive to get rid of them.”

At financial institutions, AI poses the greatest threat to loan officers, according to Schwerdfeger.

There is also the impact on CU members to be continued, as people lose jobs to AI, such as those employed as drivers, front-desk workers, translators, and more.

The Idea of a Single Monolithic AI

“This is the one everyone wants to talk about,” Schwerdfeger said. “If AI is advancing along a curve exponentially, a number-one will emerge and no other AI will ever be able to catch up.  A lot of people are spending a lot of time and effort in trying to put some limits on this with government control. There are people working hard to try to make this sustainable and avoid some of the biggest risks. But there is no way for any of us to anticipate how this is really going to evolve. I think it’s a real risk, but it’s probably going to be 15 years before any real threats emerge.”

The Second Wave

“This is the one I think is the most important,” said Schwerdfeger, referring to the concept that it’s the second wave of adopters who really drive change—and create threats. “A great example is social media. When it first came out it was the standard players playing in it: government, business, academia, and they were generally following the rules. Eight years later and it’s groups like Anonymous and ISIS. The exact same thing is going to happen in AI. Today, we have the usual suspects, government, business, academia, because it’s so expensive. But there is a lot to be said for the second-user advantage, because it’s cheaper. I guarantee at some point when this becomes ubiquitous and there are open source alternatives, we will soon have a second wave of users.”

What can a credit union—or the broader world—do?

“There are changes and some risks on the horizon, and different leadership is going to be required,” Schwerdfeger said. “Bold leadership is going to be required.”

Posted in NWCUA in the News.