I engaged in a lengthy debate yesterday about digital banking (for a change).
The core of the discussion is whether humans are needed in a digital bank.
Not humans to program the bank, as they’re obviously needed, but humans to service the customer.
It was somewhat of a null debate, as you will definitely have a bank with no humans involved in service in the near future.
Some say that’s ridiculous, but the increasing use of robotics and sentient intelligence means that we will soon get to the stage where the automated services we use will feel human.
Think of the film Her and you get a sense of the near-term automated machine.
The film’s strapline at the opening is that: “it's not an operating system; it's a consciousness”, and the lead character played by Joachim Phoenix gradually falls in love with a near future styled Siri, played by Scarlett Johansson (as the voice).
What this film and other developments around us are demonstrating is that machines will soon have emotions.
We will deal with technology that feels human.
This is what the Japanese have been pushing for several years with robotics …
… and the combination of sentience and robotics will deliver a very human engagement in an automated form.
This is the dream of the developers: to develop technologies that are more intelligent than the human brain; and it dates back to the 1950s when the Turing Test and The Singularity became a vision.
The Turing Test was set by scientist Alan Turing in the 1950s when he stated that “a computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human”. Some say that a system called Eugene achieved this last month, although the Turing Test still stands according to others.
However it will happen one day soon and, when it does, we then achieve The Singularity.
The Singularity is a phrase first used by mathematician John Von Neumann who is reported as stating that : “the ever accelerating progress of technology … gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.”
We are nearing this state, with some saying that it will be within the next thirty years:
“Today there's no legislation regarding how much intelligence a machine can have, how interconnected it can be. If that continues, look at the exponential trend. We will reach the singularity in the timeframe most experts predict. From that point on you're going to see that the top species will no longer be humans, but machines.”
Louis Del Monte, physicist, entrepreneur, and author of The Artificial Intelligence Revolution.
So, all in all, we are moving towards a world where hum-drum jobs, like talking to us about cancelling a credit or debit, will be dealt with by human-style machines we trust.
At this point, we move beyond digital banking and ot a state of emotional banking, a term used by Meniga at Next Bank Sydney to talk about the humanised digital bank.
The thing is that the future digital bank will not be human. It will be a machine with emotions, and that day is already near.
Therefore, to really push the envelope and to recognise that most banks are cost cutters rather than service improvers, if we can get to a world in the near future where relationship managers could be replaced by relationship machines, you bet your bottom dollar that the banks will be the first to deploy such technologies.