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What is Artificial Intelligence?

A recent Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) discussion paper, DP22/4: Artificial Intelligence, offered the following definition of Artificial Intelligence (AI):

‘It is generally accepted that AI is the simulation of human intelligence by machines, including the use of computer systems, which have the ability to perform tasks that demonstrate learning, decision-making, problem solving, and other tasks which previously required human intelligence. Machine learning is a sub-branch of AI.

AI, a branch of computer science, is complex and evolving in terms of its precise definition. It is broadly seen as part of a spectrum of computational and mathematical methodologies that include innovative data analytics and data modelling techniques.’

Many PIMFA members are already using AI systems and tools in their everyday operations, and it is likely that the adoption of AI in financial services will increase rapidly over the next few years.

PIMFA firms already use AI tools for several purposes. For example, they analyse large volumes of data quickly, easily, and accurately, which enables their employees to spend more time working with and for their clients.

There are concerns that as AI becomes more advanced, it could introduce new risks, for example:

system develops biases in its decision making

leading firms to make bad decisions

rESULTING IN Poor outcomes for their clients

This is why it is essential that firms deploying AI systems have a suitably robust control framework around their AI components to keep a careful check on what they are doing.

As with any innovation, AI has the potential to make fundamental and far ranging improvements in how firms can serve their clients. However, we must ensure it is continually monitored and checked regularly to manage the risk and maximise the benefit.

A number of government departments are asking regulators such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Bank of England (BoE), Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to publish an update on their strategic approach to AI and the steps they are taking according to the White Paper. The Secretaries of States are asking for this update by 30 April 2024. 


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