We should not expect artificial intelligence to take the form of human-like robots conceived by Hollywood movies like “Ex Machina,” “I, Robot” or “Star Trek,” but instead think of it as one of the many ways human thought and creativity are going to be enhanced, delegates at the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit heard on Thursday.
Maurice Conti, chief innovation officer at Telefonica research company Alpha, said he is baffled by the enthusiasm to develop artificial intelligence modeled after human intelligence. There is no reason to be so anthropocentric when it is not clear whether human intelligence is really the best intelligence and “we don’t even understand our own intelligence,” he said.
Rather than see humanoid machines emulating human thought in our lifetime, the futurist believes we are on the cusp of “The Augmented Age,” a new phase in which natural human capabilities are going to be radically augmented by technology.
“We are going to augment ourselves cognitively, physically and perceptionally,” Mr. Conti said. “Working in partnership with the best technology, we are going to augment ourselves and achieve things that we have never been able to achieve before.”
He argued that humans’ cognitive and physical abilities will be augmented by artificial intelligence and robotics. Moreover, a digital nervous system will connect people with the data from a multitude of things and applications around them.
“We are already augmented by systems that are helping us connect to lots of people, but what about data?” he said.
In the investment industry, the ability to get access to and process huge amounts of data and gain insights is very positive, he noted, a statement that underlined the theme of the two-day event: “Wired – the rise of alternative investments in a digital age.”
But there is a potential dark side, Mr. Conti noted, because for the individual it is becoming much harder to “understand what’s relevant and what’s real and what’s not.”
Cayman must adapt
Premier Alden McLaughlin, who welcomed delegates to the event, hosted by Dart and KPMG, echoed the opportunities and threats that new technologies will afford.
The premier said he had been to three conferences in the past two weeks that had a technology and business focus.
“I have come away with a new appreciation not only for how fast business is being transformed by technology, but also the potential impact of technology on all aspects of human life,” he said.
Mr. McLaughlin said the fourth industrial revolution is fundamentally different as it comprises new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and the biological. “From 3-D printing, to artificial intelligence, driverless cars, automation and robotics, and more – we are seeing the unfolding of a new era that offers great potential promise about our future as well as potential worry.”
In the Cayman context, this means, “we need to ensure that we not only fight to keep the business and the economy that we have today – but look at how the business model that we have built can be adapted to attract the new emerging business – including financial technology, or Fintech,” he said.
The premier said that what made Cayman an attractive offshore jurisdiction of choice for many types of financial services businesses will also make it attractive to this new breed of financial services tech entrepreneurs.
“I am told that some sixty blockchain-related companies have set up here and more are lining up. There is very good potential then for this type of business to blossom and help further diversify our economy, and provide future opportunities for Caymanian employment and entrepreneurship,” the premier said.
Cayman to join U.K. at trade event
Mr. McLaughlin also announced that he has been invited by the U.K. government to lead a team from Cayman to attend the “GREAT Festival of Innovation” in Hong Kong from March 21 to 24.
It is the first time Cayman will participate in a U.K.-sponsored trade event as part of the official U.K. delegation under the new “Global Britain” initiative.
“The Financial Services Ministry, the Tourism Ministry and the Health Ministry will be reaching out to industry to determine the level of interest in businesses also attending and showcasing Cayman’s world-class innovative products and services,” he said.
The investment technology-centered panels and speakers at the Kimpton Seafire include Michelle McCloskey, president of the Man Group, who will talk about how to make predictions in an unpredictable world shaped by technological change and globalization, as well as discussions about how emerging technologies will change the asset management industry and what is unique about the current uncertainty faced by investors.
Other panels focus on minimizing the impact of macroeconomic changes on investments and how funds can harness the power of machine learning and blockchain.
Non-industry speakers featured at the event are former U.S. racing driver Danica Patrick and former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.
The conference will conclude on Friday with an interview with Sophia, an artificial intelligence-powered robot, and keynote speaker Hollywood actor Will Smith, the star known, among many other things, for his role in the movie “I, Robot.”