An engineer makes an adjustment to the robot "The Incredible Bionic Man" at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington October 17, 2013. The robots are coming for our jobs, and Wall Street is getting a little nervous. A recent survey of 1000 financial professionals conducted by LinkedIn, the networking site, found that 25% of Wall Streeters are worried their job could be jeopardized by automation. Retail bankers are the most fearful with a third of respondents saying they view automation as a threat, according to a report highlighting the survey's results. It stands to reason that some folks are nervous, as Wall Street firms look to automate their infrastructure to cut jobs.
Over the past few years, artificial intelligence has rapidly matured as a viable field of technology. Machines that learn from experience, adjust to new inputs, and perform tasks once uniquely the domain of humans, have entered our daily lives in ways seen and unseen. Given the current breakneck pace of change and innovation, the question for governments and policymakers is how to harness the benefits of artificial intelligence, and not be trampled by the robot takeover of our nightmares. The answer is simple: make them work for us. Recently, the IMF's Managing Director Christine Lagarde convened some of the most distinguished voices in the field of artificial intelligence, including Malcolm Frank of Cognizant; Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future; Chief Analytics Officer of IBM, Martin Fleming; and Andrew McAfee and Simon Johnson, the latter a former Chief Economist of the IMF, and both professors at MIT.
It was an experiment straight out of "2001: A Space Odyssey." In an effort to gauge the accuracy of AI technology, researchers presented real estate journalist John Rebchook with several recommended listings. The recommendations, which were based on a home Rebchook liked, came in two sets – one from Denver-area brokers, another from "Find More Genius," a computer algorithm that Denver-area broker Creed Smith had created. In the end, the humans did not stand a chance. Over three separate days of testing, Rebchook's favorite recommendation came from the algorithm each day, as did two of his three overall favorites.
Advancements in AI were recently spotlighted by AlphaGo, a computer program developed by Google's DeepMind team. The program -- which relies on decision-making algorithms and neural networks -- defeated a human European champion at the board game Go in a feat previously believed to be years away. On the investor side, Jim Breyer of Breyer Capital has said AI will deliver massive returns for investors betting on applications for industries including healthcare and entertainment. With this in mind, we used CB Insights' database to look at funding to artificial intelligence startups since 2010. Our artificial intelligence category covers startups primarily focused on developing AI, across areas including image processing, natural language processing, machine learning, deep learning, and predictive APIs, among other core applications.
This week, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released a report stating that in the coming years, robots and AI will replace 75 million jobs globally. At first, this is due to four specific technological advances--ubiquitous high-speed mobile internet; artificial intelligence; widespread adoption of big data analytics; and cloud technology. By 2022, thanks to smart algorithms and advanced robotics, almost 60% of those organisations surveyed expect to have significantly modified how they produce and distribute their products. As a result, the productivity of existing jobs will improve dramatically, resulting in the loss of many of those jobs. The WEF report sees robots replace jobs in any industry, but especially in accounting firms, factories and post offices, as well as secretarial roles and cashier work.