The World’s Biggest Banks Are Doubling Down On Artificial Intelligence
When we think of companies at the forefront of technological innovation, global financial institutions don’t necessarily come to mind. Instead, massive tech giants like Amazon, Apple and Alphabet dominate the conversation around innovation and garner the most attention. However, with new technologies like artificial intelligence going mainstream, even the classic gatekeepers in the financial sector can’t afford to ignore them. Now, the largest banks around the world are doubling down on their AI plays.
Capital One — United States
Although algorithms have the power to create huge efficiencies through the processing of large volumes of data and automation, the tech industry at large has a bias problem as blind spots and prejudices that engineers hold are being embedded into the technologies they build. Whether it’s racist soap dispensers or reinforcement of negative cultural stereotypes, artificial intelligence is imperfect: and even if it is not programmed to do so, the software can learn on its own to discriminate.
Coming in as one of the top 50 best US financial institutions on Forbes US Best Banks list, Capital One has been beefing up its AI capabilities by prioritizing ethical AI in its systems. Its Senior Research Manager on the Conversational AI team, Omar Flórez, a PhD researcher from Peru is one of the few Latin Americans studying the ethical aspects of machine learning.
For a financial institution, these biases can create great harm to customers — think about applying for a car or home loan or opening up any line of credit with a system that is applying a bias against minorities or women.. Ensuring there is a focus on diversity of genders and people coming into the profession as well as diversity in teams is one way the industry can overcome these natural tendencies towards bias. This has been a focus at Capital One, especially on the development and deployment of AI within their systems.
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With most technical documentation in this emerging field being written in English, Flórez experienced the challenges of learning AI firsthand as an engineer whose first language is Spanish. He decided to create a comprehensive Spanish-English dictionary of AI terms, which is available on GitHub as an open source project and freely available to anyone who wants to use it or add to it. Spanish speakers can now consult the document to understand technical terms used in a book, online discussion, article or course, to gain a deeper understanding of the material.