Can machines ever truly surpass humans’ cognitive superiority in the analysis of qualitative data? To explore this question, Barclays’ community for open innovation, Rise, hosted a panel discussion at its New York headquarters last week.
Developments in machine learning are at the bleeding-edge of computer science innovation as technology becomes more sophisticated and agile. Consumers and investors alike should pay close attention – its potential could soon transform everything from financial market analysis to search engines results.
The panel featured representatives from big data, artificial intelligence (AI), computational statistics and adaptive analytics, with experts from the United Nations, Datavore Labs, Socure, Remesh, deepsense.io and Golden Bear.
Gerry Seidman, principal at Golden Bear, made the observation early in the discussion that “machine learning is a mix of statistics and AI – it’s not sci-fi.” He impressed that while machine learning is a thoroughly researched subject that has had tested applications nearly from the advent of modern computing, it’s not a new technology, it’s just being deployed faster as of late.
Andrew Konya, CEO of Remesh and graduate of the first Barclays Accelerator program in New York, offered his opinion arguing that the automation of services could – and should – be implemented broadly in the very near future. Elements of everyday life such as transportation, financial transactions and even identity verification could be made more cost efficient though machine learning, especially with the likely widespread adoption of new technology over the next 15 years.
The ethics around data usage and AI, the economic impact of smart machines, and the societal shifts that could be at stake with these innovations were vigorously debated. Two major concerns cited were the economic implications of computers taking jobs from humans and the difficulty in defining who should profit from that mechanical output. Others were alarmed at the longer-term possibility of computers surpassing humans in all types of intelligence.
Konya referenced the work of Nick Bostrom, philosopher and professor of Artificial Intelligence at Oxford University, who argues that if we aren’t smart about how we program AI, computers will rule us. As a group, panellists agreed that the existential risk of machine learning should be most heavily considered as researchers, scientists and corporations work to advance the technology.
Rise is Barclays’ community for open innovation. Designed to help shape the future of financial services, Rise provides a platform through which start ups and corporates can connect to co-create and scale technologies within Barclays and the wider financial services industry.
Rise provides a community, facilities and events like panels and hackathons that can enable their growth and fast-track progress. Its current locations in London, Manchester, New York and Cape Town serve as headquarters for the Barclays Accelerators, which are intensive 13-week programmes designed to provide cutting-edge resources, mentoring and development to innovative FinTech start ups. Visit www.thinkrise.com for more information about the TheoRise event series and to learn more about Rise facilities and programming.