Artificial Intelligence: tool or threat?
Change is a comin’. That shouldn’t be controversial. However, everything from here on might well be.
I’ve been following the debate on how robo-advice will or won’t disrupt financial advice. This is not another piece continuing that debate, although it is an insight into the future.
I want to share with you some views from Peter Diamandis, best known for being the founder and chairman of the X-Prize Foundation, the co-founder and executive chairman of Singularity University and the co-author of the New York Times bestsellers Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think and BOLD: How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World. (I’ve recommended both of these books as good reads in the past).
Peter believes that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data are about to dramatically disrupt three industries: Healthcare, Finance and Insurance.
Let me state for the record, I’m hugely optimistic about the future of advice. In any major change there is both threat and opportunity. It’s how we respond that determines which of those becomes the dominant force in our lives. Our current business model is great, but exponential changes in technology are going to change it dramatically over the next decade or two. None of us know exactly how.
As with all of these things. It’s often easier to recognise something in another industry because we are not so emotionally connected to it. So let’s take a look at Healthcare first.
The next wave of health care
Here’s what Peter has to say about healthcare disruption:
“Healthcare is so massively broken, that its disruption will come easy and happen fast. Hundreds of startups are working to make you the ‘CEO of your own health’; to augment (or replace) doctors and hospitals.
I expect new AI-enabled healthcare options to be free or near-free, and so much better that people will forgo traditional medical care in favor of these superior options. This will cause today’s healthcare system to crater.
Think libraries in an age of Google… Think traditional wired landlines in an age of mobile telephony… Think taxis in an age of Uber… Think long-distance in an age of Skype… the list goes on.
So what’s coming?
The $10M Qualcomm Tricorder X-PRIZE will give birth to devices (i.e. the Star Trek Tricorder) that allow you, the consumer, to self-diagnose, anytime, anywhere.
My company Human Longevity Inc. (HLI) will sequence all 3.2 billion letters in your genome. Such data mining will allow you (your AI, or your physician) to know in advance which diseases threaten you and make your healthcare proactive and preventive.”
Stem cell research might soon allow us to grow a replacement lung, liver, heart or kidney.
Companies like Google, Apple, Samsung and plenty of others are investing billions in biometric sensors. Click on the Health App that comes standard with your iPhone and see for yourself the amount of data you might be able to store and provide to the next wave of health care providers. These sensors will be monitoring your vital signs to generate pre-emptive warnings on health issues.
It’s not about Robos, it’s about technology
So what about financial services? Take a look at some of this from IBM Watson (IBMs data mining talking computer that you might have seen on TV):
“Imagine a service that can read through your social media posts from the past couple of years and determine from sentiment analysis which industries and values you like and which you don’t. You love tech and fashion, but hate alcohol and violence. You love Europe, but are not a fan of Russia, etc.
In an age of millennials where what you stand for is as important as the profits you make this gives the upper hand to an AI that can sort through 10,000 possible companies and recommend to you those investments which are most aligned with your values on a risk-adjusted basis.”
Or open access to information that was previously only available to the few:
“Even better is AI trading based on massive data. We’re heading towards a world of a trillion sensors, riding on top of a world filled with 100 billion connected devices. This will give your AI a ‘god-like knowledge,’ allowing you (or your AI) to know anything, anytime, anywhere.
What do I mean? Today there are companies that are using satellites to image and count cars in the Toys-R-Us or Home Depot parking lots every day, and based on that knowledge project the company’s revenues ahead of quarterly earnings reports.”
At the very least it’s really interesting. And mixed within it is certainly threat and opportunity.
It’s easy to laugh it off as fantasy. However, I’d encourage you to refrain from judging this stuff with your industry-insider knowledge. You know too much. Ask your children, friends and family what they think of some of these innovations.
Finally, let’s look at the insurance industry through Peter’s eyes:
“Here’s another BIG scenario that could see the collapse of today’s insurance industry.
Let’s say that I have a genome relatively free of major disease, I don’t smoke, I eat healthy and I work out every day.
Let’s also say that I publish this information (validated by my sensors) to my social graph and say, ‘Hey, anyone else with good genes, healthy eating and workout habits who wants to self-insure along with me, let’s do it… We’re a low-risk partnership!’
If this was to happen, and the top 10% of the insurance pool pulled themselves out of the marketplace, this would crush the economics of the industry.
Up until now, this kind of knowledge and ‘peer-to-peer insurance’ would never have been possible. It is now.”
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As you can see, the impact of technology is already huge and is growing exponentially into the future. When you start to look at the world through this lens it starts to change the way you think about your business, how it can make a contribution, and how it can remain relevant and profitable into the future.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. Personally, I can’t wait.