Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly changing the way businesses build products and even provide customer service. We now have automated virtual assistants and “chatbots” answering customer service calls.1 We even have self-driving cars being tested for pizza delivery.2
These quantum leaps in technological advances present both opportunities and challenges. For example, the way we have adopted online financial transactions over the past 10 to 15 years has made everything from banking and paying bills to applying for a mortgage so much more convenient. However, as the recent Equifax security breach impacting more than 145 million people demonstrates, housing that much data in one central location creates a single-entry point for would-be hackers.3
That’s one reason we believe it’s important to work face to face with financial advisors you know and trust. Regardless of where technology takes us, there’s really no substitute for personal interaction, particularly when it comes to planning for your family’s insurance, higher education and retirement income needs. We appreciate the value of combining human intelligence with empathy and understanding, and we know our clients do as well. In this rapidly advancing world of artificial intelligence, it’s important to offer both convenience and personal service.
With that said, we work to keep up with innovations and their applications for today’s world, especially when they may create potential investment opportunities. There are all kinds of innovative things to report. The use of connected devices such as wearables, residential electric and gas meter readers, drones and business self-checkout terminals is expected to grow by 31 percent this year over 2016. Today’s number of 8.4 billion devices in use is projected to grow to 20.4 billion connected devices by 2020.4
AI devices, such as drones, are being adapted for all kinds of creative uses. Researchers in Australia have developed flying drones capable of doing three things:5
- Identifying sharks near swimmers and surfers
- Amplifying warnings to beachgoers via an on-board loudspeaker
- Sending out electrical impulses that irritate sharks and deter them from entering populated areas
One way AI can be more effective than the human brain is its capacity to access and analyze vast more stores of data. As humans, we possess memory and recall, but AI machines can be loaded with an infinite amount of data that can be scanned and identified quickly. Farmers are using this technology via smartphone to take photos of ailing crops, from which AI can pinpoint disease with up to 98 percent accuracy.6
In the construction industry, AI is being used to help project managers track the most egregious potential malfunctions based on plan specifications, phase timing and severity. This helps keep projects on time and on budget with a laser-like focus on safety and quality.7
AI is also having an impact in the retail industry. British fashion icon Burberry requested and uploaded scores of data regarding their clients’ buying habits. This enables frontline retail clerks to make immediate recommendations to complement client selections based on what customers purchased in the past. The intelligence has created a type of personalized shopping service that has proven enormously successful.8
Moreover, the retailer has been able to cut down on counterfeit sales by developing technology that can detect if an item is a Burberry “bootleg” product by analyzing a photo of it.9
1Shep Hyken. Forbes. July 15, 2017. “AI and Chatbots Are Transforming The Customer Experience.” Accessed Oct. 13, 2017.
2Amar Toor and Tamara Warren. The Verge. Aug. 29, 2017. “Domino’s and Ford will test self-driving pizza delivery cars.” Accessed Oct. 13, 2017.
3Bloomberg. Oct. 2, 2017. “Equifax Says 2.5 Million More Americans May Be Affected by Hack.” Accessed Oct. 2, 2017.
4Liam Tung. ZDNet. Feb. 7, 2017. “IoT devices will outnumber the world’s population this year for the first time.” Accessed Oct.13, 2017.
5Charlotte Edmond. World Economic Forum. Sept. 4, 2017. “Meet Australia’s beach-protecting, AI-powered shark drones.” Accessed Oct. 2, 2017.
6Jamie Condliffe. MIT Technology Review. Oct. 2, 2017. “OK, Phone: How Are My Crops Looking?” Accessed Oct. 2, 2017.
7Zach Mortice. Redshift. Oct. 2, 2017. “Machine Learning Eases Construction Project Management—and Prevents Catastrophes.” Accessed Oct. 2, 2017.
8Bernard Marr. Forbes. Sept. 25, 2017. “The Amazing Ways Burberry Is Using Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to Drive Success.” Accessed Oct. 2, 2017.