Concerning the on going debate about ‘AI, the best/worst thing that will ever happen’, this week Twice Reply attended the Customer Experience Financial Services forum in London, and heard from various precocious upstarts (Monzo, Atom) in addition to some hoary old brand classics such as Bupa, HSBC and Coventry Building Society.
Whilst the subject matter danced quickly across many of the classic Customer Experience conundrums (silo’d departments; need for top down leadership; values and culture focused on the customer etc etc), there was much intriguing discussion in regard to AI, and its contribution towards Customer Experience.
Some of the speakers claimed to be using chat bots within their operations, in both marketing and customer services roles, and most agreed that AI was an inevitable and largely welcome advance in how they would continue to better serve the customer.
For example, we heard from insurers the WPA group, who had integrated AI into their claims operations, in order to more quickly and accurately process medical claims.
Most agreed that AI (or machine learning) was good at processing ‘rational’ data, and that it would revolutionise the healthcare industry. However, a subsequent panel debating the pros and cons of AI, cautioned that AI still needs to be carefully mentored when entering into the world of decision making that affects the emotional wellbeing of customers. Insurance claims concerned with medical conditions and even death, were solemnly agreed to be no place yet for the cold calculating eye of AI.
Whilst Twice Reply nodded along most sagely to this debate, we cocked one eye at the speed with which the conversation quickly escalated into one of fear about job losses; that old chestnut, ‘The Terminator’, even made a couple of appearances in regard to the inevitable post-apocalyptic outcome that awaited us human beings, trampled into the dust by jackboot-wearing robots.
To which we must conclude: are human beings really as brilliant, wise and level-headed as we believe in business, let alone managing world issues? To this author, certain Asian and North American leaders are probably worse for our health than any AI, machine learning algorithm could be.
Twice Reply passionately believes that AI can and will do the horrible jobs that human beings either don’t, or can’t, manage effectively. Clinging on to the belief that we are ‘experts’ in making sense of the huge amounts of data relating underpinning human behaviour, smacks more of protectionism than it does the curation of a better functioning society. What we human beings are brilliant at doing, is coming up with creative ideas that can better shape the world around us. The sooner we embrace AI to make sense of the complexity around us, the sooner we can start building the nirvana of the future – from insurance companies that better understand and anticipate our needs, to societies that function better for the greater good of the many. Let’s focus on being creative: leave the complexity of delivery to a machine that is far less likely to screw up than us.