ReWork: AI for social good and finance

A chatbot suggests how you should handle your finances – who is responsible?

With the rapid advancements and applications of AI, conversations and concerns have increased around the intentions of artificial intelligence. There are concerns that AI could be used with malicious intent rather than for the benefit of humankind. This paper explores areas where artificial intelligence can benefit society and tackle global challenges such as the environment, education, healthcare and sustainability.

Speaking about financial services, Mark Weber, research staff member at MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, said: “There are many opportunities for us whereby serving as financial institutions we can contribute to a healthier global ecosystem for every step of the socioeconomic ladder.

“Finance has a negative stereotype – there’s an interesting phenomenon in psychology called projective identification (Melanie Klein) – when I project an idea upon you, I can do this so effectively that I can induce you into the behavior I’m projecting. I see this in finance where finance people are told ‘you’re bad’, so some finance people think ‘that’s the role I’ll play’ and become okay with being the ‘bad guy’.

“I hope to affirm people who work in finance and institutions doing financial services that there’s so much social impact that can be made, not by donating or having some special category called social good, but by integrating your values in every operation you’re engaged in, and through this you’ll see opportunities everywhere — to help a young family get started with their first mortgage, to help an immigrant send money to their families in a different country, to help a small business be able to hire more people.

These types of opportunities to help other people are everywhere, we just need to see them and resist the projections.”

The report also noted that bottlenecks to overcome are the availability and access to data, or lack thereof, which is stunting the progress of AI advancements. Data accessibility remains a significant challenge. Resolving it will require a willingness, by both private and public sector organizations, to make data available, the report noted.

Read the full report

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