Dawn of the Artificially Intelligent Consiglieri: Mankind's New Best Friend
“Are you prepared for the digital earthquake, tornado, hurricane and tsunami (all wrapped into one) preparing to engulf our world?” writes entrepreneur and futurist Stephen Ibaraki. It's part of the foreword to the book I recently co-wrote with Neil Sahota: Own the A.I. Revolution: Unlock Your Artificial Intelligence Strategy to Disrupt Your Competition.
There has been a deluge of fearmongering surrounding the topic of artificial intelligence, including from individuals such as SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who reportedly said: “With A.I., we are conjuring the demon.” But my co-author and I take a different approach to this technology. We view it as an opportunity for positive growth in the commercial and humanitarian sectors. To this end, Sahota, who is a subject matter expert on artificial intelligence for the United Nations, recently gave a keynote on how to reshape our world through the application of AI at the United Nations ITU’s AI for Good Global Summit.
His remarks pointed to a positive long-term outlook: In spite of so many doom and gloom prognostications, AI stands to positively revolutionize life -- while providing greater material abundance during what’s being termed the Fourth Industrial Revolution. To help illustrate this, we paint a picture in our book of life in the year 2030 for "Sue," a hardworking executive who relies on a Financial Intelligent Agent (FIA) like most other successful entrepreneurs.
First, it’s important to understand that what we calll "FIA" goes beyond the limitations of Siri or any of today’s other virtual assistants. Instead, imagine FIA as something more akin to the role The Godfather's Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) inhabits as consiglieri for the Corleone family. FIA is not only your confidante and advisor; it’s also your fixer. A loyal, outsourced artificial mind, it would happily place a dead horse in your opponent’s bed to close a deal -- if that weren’t illegal.
To better understand FIA’s future potential, let’s review three ways it could assist you in your personal and business life.
1. Respond to the market (even while you sleep)
The moment Sue awakes, FIA is waiting with a cappuccino from her smart kitchen. FIA began brewing her favorite drink moments before as it gradually brightened Sue’s room to rouse her naturally, with no shrill phone alarm. As Sue begins dressing, FIA runs down its most recent activities.
“I have been making continual micro-adjustments to your investment portfolio based on dynamic trends being monitored on a continuous 24/7 basis,” FIA explains. “Per your preferences, I redistributed your savings through micro-auctioning to the top 10-ranked services for best spot interest rates.”
2. Manage your travel plans better than any analog travel agent
Sue suddenly realizes she forgot to schedule a flight to her nephew’s birthday party next month and reaches for her phone.
“Also, no need to fret over missing little Tommy’s get-together,” says FIA. “I examined your calendar. Using UIA (United Intelligent Agent), I booked your flights for August 20th at the lowest rates.”
“Whew. Thank you, FIA!”
“Also, I am sensing a 90 percent probability high flu outbreak in Amsterdam when you arrive. Using IIA (Insurance Intelligent Agent), I was able to negotiate health insurance for the 23.3 hours of risk.”
“That’s smart. No use in paying for the whole weekend if I don’t need it.”
“Next, I booked you an autonomous rental car with the best safety record, thus the lowest insurance. You can call him SAM. Your hotel is handled the same way through its intelligent agents (IAs).”
“And just so you know,” FIA adds. “I will handle via IAs all of the fund transfers and payments with the best-negotiated lowest fees. From my analysis of your sentiment thought patterns, I know you worry about this. We can get all this information in one place, updating continuously, with the best deals and rates, lowest fees, no minimums and no overhead infrastructure since it is all virtual.”
3. Continuously monitor and respond to your health needs (at all times)
“By the way, your health index is down to 94.2,” FIA tells Sue, who has by now finished her berry turmeric shake and poached eggs.
FIA senses Sue’s biometrics go on high alert.
“But no need to worry,” it says. “I will ensure the necessary supplements are added to your meal plans today when ordering via RIA (Restaurant Intelligent Agent). Your life index is also down, so I will make a gene adjustment via the nanobots. Concurrently, I will ensure micro-adjustments to your retirement savings plan and life insurance via IAs.”
“Sounds good,” says Sue, grabbing her things to head out the door.
“And just so you know, your work schedule today entails devising multiple project bids on creative design with robot guides.”
Sue thanks FIA at the same time daily updates are implanted in her memory via direct neural communication. She is now ready to face her day.
So how likely is it that artificially intelligent assistants will become reality?
Is the above scenario madness, or is it the future? Though this scenario appears to be far-fetched, AI could theoretically make it possible. "It may seem like science fiction, but already brain signatures exist for predicting emotions, thoughts and images, as well as new theories for explaining consciousness," said Ibaraki. “Likewise, labs are experimenting with direct brain interfaces, implantable neuro devices, injectable nanochips, brain modulation and recordings and advanced computer chips modeled on human brains.”
Likewise, smart sensors, along with big data analytics, are already being used to predict and respond to variations across the full spectrum of existence, including finance and health -- even geopolitical events. It may not be long before AI advances to a new level of prognostication, offering unprecedented insight and support into our day-to-day activities and business needs.
Scott Stewart, CEO of the Innovative Lending Platform Association (ILPA), thinks machine learning will transform finance in the AI age. A former executive at the Financial Services Roundtable, he also predicts the rise of hands-on personal assistants. “In the future, your personal algorithm will understand your creditworthiness moment to moment,” said Stewart. “It will offer you products and services to manage any issue in realtime.”
Here’s what this might look like: Imagine you own a florist shop. In the fall, your AI consiglieri might begin anticipating the capital needed to prepare for Valentine’s Day. “You could simply authorize your algorithm to fill the cash gap automatically within certain parameters,” said Stewart. “The personal algorithm would then shop for the lowest-cost product that fits your needs and may even contract for those dollars on your behalf.”
Ultimately, the potential for greater human and machine symbiosis portends a remarkable alliance. Science fiction movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ex Machina often depict AIs conspiring to engineer humanity's doom, but I believe it's far more likely we will experience a mutually beneficial relationship with our computer compatriots. Here’s to our shared future -- one in which people and machines collaborate for positive change.