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Panel Tackles Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Challenges and Solutions

Ai PanelA trio of participants, representing two fintech companies and a bank, discussed artificial intelligence and machine learning in a panel discussion at the 2018 AFT Spring Summit at California’s Ojai Valley Inn.

Jonathan Nordhausen, VP/Product Strategy for Fiserv, moderated a group discussion that also included Ryan Caldwell, Founder/CEO, MX; Robert Fannon, Financial Services Industry Director & Principal Lead, Microsoft; and John Schulte, CIO at Mercantile Bank. They examined the rising usage of artificial intelligence in the financial services industry.

The first question tackled was what is AI? Caldwell defined it as “anything trying to mimic human intelligence.” He added that could be something as simple as a static algorithm coded by a person, all the way through to machine learning, representation learning and deep learning.

“As you journey down this path of AI, it reminds me of kind of what we went through with Big Data.” Bannon said, “So now we’re at a point where everyone had a lot of data, and it’s big, but we really don’t know what to do with it. Thankfully we have moved on to the next chapter, let’s run some algorithms against it and learn from that data.”

Schulte admitted they do not have an artificial intelligence strategy at Mercantile Bank. “We frame the discussion about enhancing our customer experience.” In addition, “we have a data problem in this organization and we’re still in the process of getting that data together.”

The panel also covered a variety of related topics include data management, bot usage, and the ethical concerns regarding personal data handling.

The Mercantile CIO also presented the siloed data challenge at the bank and the questions presented by chatbots, “It has to be more than giving customers their bank balances.”

Bannon explained, “We need to spend a little time putting in the rules and regulations of AI. We need to have guidelines on privacy, transparency, we need to understand our customers’ data.”

Caldwell maintained, “It comes down to all the automation and efficiency gains we’ll see,” not just in financial technology but in other industries such as the medical industry. He suggested it is going to take society time to become acclimated to artificial intelligence and machine learning, and learn how to navigate the shift toward automation.

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