Weekly AI Digest: Morningstar ETF Conference Talks Automation in Finance

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In the beginning of the month, Morningstar ETF Conference brought together finance advisors to talk about strategies and insights about exchanged-traded funds (ETF’s). A synopsis by Advisor Perspectives outlined an interesting talk by Vanguard’s Global Chief Economist, Joe Davis. Davis’ talk, titled “The Trend that Will Define Our Lifetime,” examines about how the workplace is changing due to technical developments, including automation in finance. The conclusions from the talk fit closely with how we’ve seen AI applied to the workplace across a wide variety of industries. Based on the article’s synopsis, one theme stood out:

“Jobs do not get automated away; tasks do.”

This quote perfectly sums up the conclusions based on our research and conversations with our clients. Take for example the research in our e-book, From Henry Ford to High Finance: Why Automation in Finance is Booming. We examine the impact of automation in a wide variety of industries, including finance, and found many examples where technology proved to be beneficial for a particular industry or role.

Automation in Finance: the ATM

Take for example the ATM, one of the first examples of automated banking. In the beginning, many were unsure about the necessity of ATM’s. Tellers were the main point of contact for a bank and fulfilling the role of handling deposits and withdrawals. It was believed that ATM’s would replace Tellers – I mean it was even in the name “Automated Teller Machines.”

However, this turned out not to be the case. Tellers’ job description moved away from highly repetitive, routine tasks and now focused on more unique, non-routine tasks. Davis refers to this as “uniquely human work.”

Beware of False Assumptions in AI & Automation

ATM’s are just one example of how technology helped improve capacity within a particular industry. However, when examining articles and studies about automation and the workforce, it’s important to examine the author’s assumptions. To help, Davis points out three false assumptions commonly used when discussion AI and automation:

  1. Technology only threatens labor and never compliments it
  2. Jobs are made up of only one task
  3. The tasks within jobs don’t change over time

Here’s a Morningstar interview with Davis, following the keynote speech, talking about automation of tasks, not jobs.

Take a look at some other interesting reads from last week:

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