Justin Lyon, CEO of the computational simulation firm Simudyne, talks to TFT about embracing the possibilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
TFT: How can areas most ready for AI disruption be identified?
Justin: Areas that have a process that can be quantified and ordered into a series of logical steps is ready for AI. There are also cases where this process can be replaced by automated methods that identify the workflow and metrics to find reasonable objectives. In essence every task can use some or even a lot of AI.
TFT: Where is AI going to make the greatest impact in financial services?
Justin: Financial services is an area where the opportunities are clear. It also has the benefit of a well-defined structure. Regulations and protocols add a lot of structure that doesn’t need to be discovered or defined to get started with AI. The discovery and organisation of objectives is the most difficult part of getting going.
TFT: What are the greatest barriers to wide-scale implementation of AI?
Justin: The greatest barrier is to get people with the right skills in the right conversations. There’s a funny story about Roman concrete being a family secret. We only recently discovered the use of lava rock in the composition. If the people making decisions and designing existing tools used for decisions are not willing to get into conversations with the AI experts, it’s really hard to get started. The most important step is to get the right conversations started.
TFT: How can barriers to implementation be overcome?
Justin: Decision makers and quants ought to feel empowered by what AI can do for them. AI allows them to think clearly and more efficiently about tough problems. In fact they might realise how much of their work can be advanced and how many new opportunities can be created by AI.
The most important step is to get the right conversations started
TFT: How can the workforce be better prepared for the rise of AI?
Justin: Well, you’re ignoring how much of what we do is driven by our humanity. AI can help us, but it’s only a tool.
I think AI can give people access to a more human interaction with their decisions. Let the machines compute and prepare the options and people can decide.
Simulation is probably a better way to think about this. Simulators let you test your decisions before you have skin in the game. If you could test your decisions in a simulator and it could use AI to help you find the best solutions for every potential future, you would have a lot more confidence in your decisions.
TFT: Should we be scared of AI, what do you think are the biggest risks?
Justin: No. AI is going to help us explore ideas and scenarios through simulation in a way that would be impossible using pen and paper. If you take the most intelligent people we’ve encountered in human history, those with the greatest impact, you will see that they saw things differently. Often they could see solutions to hard problems, yet were shunned by society for their views.
If we don’t use these new tools, we’ll lose many, many opportunities as a species.