Truth be told artificial intelligence (AI) has been around way longer than what digital proponents give it credit. It can be argued that one of the fundamental aspirations of digital computing is rooted in the foundations of mathematical reasoning – arguably the prelude to machine learning. Just to be clear that dates back to the 1940s.
Arguably movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and the 202 films made from 1927 to 2018 have all contributed to the inquisitive fascination about what AI can mean to us as consumers. It is this fascination that continues to drive investments around the technology. From 2015-2017 over 450 Chinese startups have received US$4.8 billion to fund their AI ideas.
Investors and businesses are looking at these startups for the next generation applications of AI. And indeed, applications should be where the interest is and not the technology itself.
In explaining the interest by financial institutions on AI technology, Varun Mittal, global emerging markets Fintech leader at EY, explained that AI and its component technologies like data and analytics should all be geared towards answering the user’s need.
“Data or insights or analytics is not the end goal. How do you use one or more of these in order to make me better at what I do? That is where financial services can build, buy or partner with these solutions [startups or tech companies] to bring more value to their customers,” he explains.
He laments that AI [and other emerging technologies like Big Data] has become a buzzword – fueled by hype. “At one point it is intelligence, then it becomes artificial intelligence, then it becomes machine learning, and then it becomes deep learning, and then it becomes quantum learning. It is an evolution, incremental additions on top of it, and a lot of times it's just because it looks cool on marketing word,” said Mittal.
According to EY, the potential opportunities and benefits of AI remain under-hyped. There is a lot of noise around AI but very little in-depth discussion and analysis of how it is going to transform businesses.
A statement that corroborates a comment made by Hyper Anna CEO and co-founder, Natalie Nguyen, who concedes that many of the efforts around AI today are just scratching the surface – just at the beginning stages of the journey.
Barriers to adoption
As Chris Mazzei, EY global innovations technology leader, commented that it is not a lack of talent that is holding back the development of AI but rather a lack of understanding of what is possible.
Still, a recent EY pulse survey lists barriers to AI adoption as:
- Talent: AI is still a small field. According to a recent EY pulse survey, 56% of respondents saw a lack of AI talent as their greatest barrier. The industry is doubling in size each year, but it’s still very small given the expectations.
- Few good enterprises AI products. Too many techies and not enough business people are driving the AI discussions. “We need to see more input and influence from business-driven individuals who care about creating something with value or who have a burning problem they need to solve,” said EY.
- Immature platform ecosystem with existing platforms principally targeted at data scientists and experimentalists. It is still little in the way of truly enterprise-grade tools.
- Media is focused on fear rather than benefits. As a result, leaders at large enterprises may spend more resources addressing those fears rather than exploring the opportunities created.
Watch the full video above and hear Mittal explain how financial institutions can benefit from AI and where to direct their energies to reap the rewards of the technology.