The Promise and Perils of Technology: Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Cybercrime and FinTech





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Jun 24, 2018
by Maryam Ghaddar
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The Promise and Perils of Technology: Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Cybercrime and FinTech

Financial industry leaders, policymakers and regulators gather in Austria for the annual meeting of the Salzburg Global Finance Forum Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Human and machine. Where do we draw the line and what is the point of intersection? Senior leaders and rising specialists in the fields of financial services and technology, banking, cybersecurity and data analysis will gather at Schloss Leopoldskron for the annual Salzburg Global Finance Forum to discuss the radical technological implications of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” on the banking sector.

The multi-year series was founded in 2011 to convene international representatives to discuss outstanding issues in the future of financial markets, as well as global economic growth and stability.

This year’s intensive two-day program – titled The Promise and Perils of Technology: Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Cybercrime and FinTech – will see participants exploring the risks and opportunities of technological transformation through panel discussions, plenary sessions, working groups, and an Oxford-style evening debate.

Forum co-chair Christopher Giancarlo, Chairman of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), said, "This year is the 70th anniversary of Salzburg Global Seminar. It is also the 70th anniversary of the world's first stored-program computer, ‘the Manchester Baby,’ that ushered in the modern computer era.  As we embark upon the next generation of computational technology, it is fitting that we gather at Schloss Leopoldskron to consider the promise and perils of the accelerating pace of digital transformation."

Fellow Forum co-chair Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Paramo, Executive Board member of BBVA, also offered some insight ahead of the meeting. He said, “Massive adoption of digital technologies, changes in consumer behavior and new business models are radically reshaping the world, profoundly changing personal relationships, business organizations and, in general, the way economic value is created. Facing this new era with chances of success will require ambition and broad-mindedness from both the public and private sector.”

Taking place directly after Salzburg Global’s June Board Meeting, which highlighted similar issues as part of its program, Who’s Afraid of Artificial Intelligence?, the Finance Forum will ask participants to consider how prominent technology is in reshaping societies, economies and industries and how much technological change societies can withstand before severe social disruptions begin to surface. What divisions arise from such change? How can policymakers channel these forces to achieve public policy objectives like prosperity, competition, financial inclusion, etc., as well as prepare societies and citizens adequately?

Participants of the 2018 Finance Forum program will examine the future of financial systems with respect to the opportunities and competitive landscapes created by ever-advancing technology forms. As of yet, this revolution is a sea of uncharted territory with innovations in the organization and analytic power of artificial intelligence, distributed ledgers, big data, cloud computing, and the commercial use of information, among others. No system is perfect. The adjustments required to hone these unpredictable and potentially dangerous technologies must have monitoring mechanisms in place to contain the inevitable attendant risks.

Gonzalez-Paramo added, “In the current context of disruptive change, two forces will be fundamental for determining the speed of change and the future of the financial sector. The first, which is internal in nature, concerns the banks’ vision of the future and their strategic, technological, financial and organizational capacity for self-transformation. The second is the role of the regulators and supervisors as drivers of or brakes on the changes needed during the transition.”

With big data comes great responsibility. We find ourselves in a labyrinth of legal challenges and protection laws throughout the world. Threats to the functioning power and smooth delivery of financial markets have become ubiquitous, just as data-driven institutions and concerns about cyber-security, privacy, data exchange and digital identity theft are increasingly apparent. The Forum will address these issues, as well as deliberate how the data ecosystem should evolve, as well as maintain a balance between privacy and information sharing, given international regulations in this area.

FinTech and RegTech companies have both done their parts in transforming the design and delivery of financial services and undertaking the daunting task of ensuring regulatory compliance. Innovating payment methods, lending strategies, asset management, insurance policies, and the potential for open banking offer powerful tools that could increase accessibility of financial services. However, it is also essential to ramp up defenses against cyber-crime and convey prosecutions as visible deterrents.

The Forum aims to foster peer-to-peer learning and exchange across regions, institutions, and generations. Salzburg Global will connect leading tech minds across the financial industry as they produce a framework of sustainable development in education, public services and investment that will act as an agenda for societies to adopt. A synthesis report on the program will also be disseminated to a broad community of Finance Forum Fellows and stakeholders later in the summer.

The Salzburg Global Forum on Finance in a Changing World convenes an internationally representative group of leaders from financial services firms, supervisory and regulatory authorities, and consultancies, auditors, law firms and other professional service providers in a small and intimate setting. The annual gathering at Schloss Leopoldskron offers private and public sector leaders an opportunity for in-depth, off-the-record conversations on the issues affecting the future of global markets. For more info please click here.