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Kevin McCallum: Would AI have put a man on the moon?

27th Feb 2023
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Like many business leaders, I’ve been following the rise of Artificial Intelligence with interest. In recent months, the topic has been raised and debated many times over, which lead me to a particular thought experiment – if we were to go back to 1961, remove human voices from the room and provide John F. Kennedy with only an AI system to ask for advice, would he have pressed forward with the moon mission that was completed just 8 years later?

When it comes to making decisions—especially ones that could have a huge impact on the future—it's essential to weigh the risks and benefits. Weighing those risks is something that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become increasingly good at doing, as algorithms are able to analyse large amounts of data to identify patterns and make predictions about market trends or credit risks. But can AI take innovative risks? That is, can AI be relied upon to make decisions that involve risk but could ultimately lead to great rewards?

While AI has come a long way in analysing data and making predictions, there are still areas where human insight is needed. Revisiting that thought experiment, I believe it’s fair to say that if John F. Kennedy has relied solely on machine intelligence to advise his plan to put a man on the moon before the end of the sixties, many modern innovations that arose from NASA’s work – and perhaps the existence of AI itself – would be in jeopardy. Pure risk analysis alone would not have been enough; creative thinking and the human drive to do mad things was necessary for the project to see lift-off (pun intended!).

Similarly, businesses today often need to take risks in order to innovate and stay competitive in an ever-changing marketplace. A leader must have the vision and courage to invest in new ideas and technologies even when there is no guarantee of success.

It’s easy for humans to understand why taking certain risks can be rewarding, even if there’s no guarantee of success. But how does AI fit into this (occasionally reckless) drive for more?

The key is combining human judgment with algorithms that examine big data sets looking for patterns or correlations between variables. This type of machine learning can help accountants better understand their customers’ needs so they can develop services that meet those needs more effectively. It also enables them to anticipate potential customer issues before they arise, so they can quickly address them without affecting customer experience or satisfaction.

Success lies in tempering risk-taking with sound risk analysis. It means combining creativity and discipline; you must be willing to experiment with possibilities while still remaining prudent with your resources and considering all angles before investing significant amounts of money or effort into an idea.

By leveraging a combination of human spirit and automated decision systems powered by AI technology, businesses are able to take innovative risks while still mitigating potential dangers or losses—something traditional predictive analytics couldn't do on its own. In other words, using both analytical reasoning from machines and human intuition from trained professionals creates new opportunities for growth through calculated risk-taking endeavours.

It's clear that AI isn't just useful for reducing cash flow problems or increasing efficiency. It can also enable us to assess risks that could potentially lead to innovations in uncharted territory filled with unforeseen rewards. However, it's important not to forget that despite their power, machines lack originality – it's only when you combine their analytical capabilities with human judgement do you open up truly ground-breaking possibilities.

We live in an age where almost anything is possible with technology; we must also keep in mind that machines are tools designed by humans. They should never replace human judgement completely since innovative risk-taking requires more than just quantitative analysis factors alone – intuition plays an integral role too. When used wisely together, however, both humans and AI-powered machines can work together towards creating great success within financial technology firms today.

And maybe that risk – the one AI says you shouldn’t take – is the one that changes the future altogether.

Kevin McCallum is CEO at Bright, combining brilliant people and amazing software to make work a breeze for accountants. Find out more at brightsg.com