The Monday mindset: 22 May 2017
Fintech zeitgeist! Every Monday, we might look back at last week; look ahead to this week; share a few thoughts (our own or others); or discuss anything that catches our eye.
This week, Antony Peyton, Banking Technology’s deputy editor, briefly discusses artificial intelligence (AI) and job security.
It seems humans’ jobs in fintech are safe for a while. In a poll “How concerned are you that AI will take your job in the next ten years?” the results were clear. A distinct lack of concern. In total, 82% were not worried or only slightly worried.
— Banking Technology (@BankingTechno) May 16, 2017
It would have been great to get insights from the Twitterati about their thinking, but perhaps people aren’t able to express views concisely. Maybe only AI bots voted on that poll. Either way, I found the results surprising. I expected more angst.
We could argue that perhaps ten years is too soon. The next 20 years may well see more job cuts because the number of firms turning to robo-advisors and chatbots has been rising. I won’t reference all our stories, but Dubai-based Mashreq is planning its future as a branchless bank. In the long term, it says 80% of humans “will be eliminated from the bank by use of technology”.
There was also Sumitomo Mitsui in Japan, which contained a quote that using AI for some of its operator operations at its contact centre will cut down on overtime and “help employees achieve a good work-life balance”.
It’s a placatory message but not convincing. To me it’s just the thin end of the wedge. As the AI technology improves, becomes more reliable, the job cuts are inevitable. The only way to stop this is to artificially restrain the technology. Which I don’t think has occurred at any point in history and is a highly unlikely scenario.
I think firms are keen on AI, not just because it cut costs, but because it offers obedience. Let’s face it, most companies are looking for yes men and women. Firms want a tiny bit of creativity (from a select bunch within their organisation), but they want the vast majority to be malleable.
For those lucky few who keep their jobs and work alongside AI, they will see how the AI maintains discipline and keeps its firm happy. The human worker will have to do the same to keep his or her job. It is not us influencing the future of AI, but the machine influencing humanity.
Last week’s Monday mindset was out of control (thankfully) and about journalism.
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