Back in 2019, I wrote a piece for Wired predicting that in time robots will take over in banking just as they have done in manufacturing.
I said that going to the bank is just the sort of boring and time-consuming thing that robots should be doing instead of people, which is why I went on to predict that, “the big change in financial services will come not when banks are using AI, but when customers are,” writes David Birch, International Keynote Speaker, Published Author and Global Advisor.
In Forbes back in 2020 I doubled down on that prediction, saying that the battle for future businesses will take place in a landscape across which their bots will roam to negotiate with their counterparts (i.e. other bots at regulated financial institutions) to obtain the best possible product for their “owners”.
At the time, I thought this was a 3-5 year trend and I was using it in workshops with advisory clients and boards to help set the outlines for medium-term strategy in the sector.
That was before ChatGPT.
You will have noticed that ChatGPT (GPT stands for “generative pre-trained transformer”) has blown up.
It got its first million users signed up in five days.
An open-source, end-to-end dialogue system built on top of the GPT-3 language model, it is designed to enable developers to quickly build and deploy conversational AI agents for chatbots, virtual assistants, and other interactive applications.
It is so named because it is powered by the GPT-3 language model, which is a powerful natural language processing (NLP) model that can generate human-like text from a few words of input.
Fortunately, for me at least, ChatGPT told the BBC that it would not take over the work of human writers, but would help them by providing suggestions and ideas leaving the human writer to create the final product.
As an experiment to test this, I wrote one of the paragraphs for this article using ChatGPT. I’ll tell you which one at the end.
Now I see on Twitter that donotpay, “the world’s first robot lawyer”, which was created by Stanford University student Joshua Browder to help people to contest parking tickets, is about to launch a browser extension where customers can type something like “negotiate my cable bill down” and have a GPT-powered bot engage with their cable provider on their behalf.
Something that I thought was a couple of years away is happening right now and it is absolutely fascinating!
In this kind of environment, the key question for customers will become a question of which bot they want to work with, not which bank.
My view, and I have to say that it is a tangential and uninformed view since I know almost nothing about marketing and even less about artificial general intelligence, is that people will tend to choose bots on the basis of moral and ethical frameworks.
We will see Green Bots, Christian Bots, Pro-Choice Bots and who knows what other kinds of bots capable of informing choices within such frameworks.
I used the examples of the AARP Automaton, the Buffett Bot and the Megatron Musk, all of which sounded plausible to me!
Once customers have chosen their bots, why would they risk making suboptimal choices around their financial health by interfering in the artificial brain’s decisions?
Think about it. As things stand, I am required to make decisions about my financial health while I am the least qualified entity in the loop!
Here is an obvious case study. Like most middle-class fintech bloggers, my pensions are by far and away the most important financial product in my life.
I am also a reasonably intelligent person, yet in any conversation with my financial advisor, I very quickly sink into a miasma of government rules about pensions, complex taxation arrangements and risk-related investment decisions.
I have absolutely no reason to believe that I can make the right decisions and would much prefer a super-intelligent bot to work with my financial advisor (well, my financial advisor’s bot) to plot the correct course through these difficult financial waters.
It seems to me that in day-to-day life there are only two categories of retail financial transactions.
There are the transactions that are too boring for people to do and transactions that are too complicated for people to understand.
In both cases, the bots stand ready to help and given the rapid advances in technology, I don’t think I’ll have to wait too much longer.
If you are curious, by the way, I used ChatGPT to write the paragraph describing what ChatGPT is. We are down the rabbit hole, for sure!