Financial companies such as Bank of New York Mellon, BBVA and American Express have become early adopters of a new generation of artificial intelligence and robotic-process-automation technology that automate human tasks. Their efforts resemble the higher-profile work of Google, Ford and others with self-driving cars and BAE Systems with drones. Specifically, the banks are creating tech to do chores previously performed by people in operations, wealth management, algorithmic trading, risk management and other areas. Though it holds great promise in improving efficiency and cutting costs, many worry that low-level jobs will be irretrievably lost in the process. McKinsey predicted in 2013 that AI and robotic banking will displace 110 million full-time workers around the world by 2025.
The elimination of millions of jobs by battalions of artificial intelligence-powered robots makes for sensational headlines. But like many stories regarding both the threat and opportunity from technological change, the real story is both more nuanced and more interesting. A recent report from the World Economic Forum predicted that intelligent automation could eliminate five million jobs in developed countries by 2020. So, you would think a recent spate of announced job reductions in Japanese banking over the next decade – over 30,000 in total at the three major banking groups - would be a cause for concern. Instead, on a recent trip to Tokyo, I heard from a senior executive at one of those banks that automation is vital to deal with a shrinking labor force as the country ages, and that busy robots are a better alternative for the country than unfilled job vacancies.
Paul Daugherty: One of our fundamental premises with'Human Machine' is really the "plus" part of human plus machine. There's been a lot of this dialogue about polarizing extremes, that the machines can do certain things and humans can do certain things, and as a result we end up with this battle, kind of pitting what the machines will do versus the humans. We think that creates the wrong dynamics. So with'Human Machine' we're trying to reframe the dialogue to: what's the real interesting space, and really the big space, where humans and machines collaborate--we call it collaborative intelligence--and come together and help provide people with better tools powered by A.I. to do what they do more effectively? And if you think about it that way, we really believe that with A.I. we're not moving into a more machine-oriented age, we're actually moving into an age that's a more human age, where we can accentuate what makes us human, empowered by more powerful tools that are more humanlike in their ability, and that creates these new types of jobs.