HABA Presents Panel Discussion on AI and Finance

March 9, 2019
Vasilis Voultsos

NEW YORK – The Hellenic American Association for Professionals in Finance (HABA), held a discussion on Artificial Intelligence and Finance on March 6 at the Wells Fargo Connections in Manhattan. The panel discussion, “AI and Finance: Is this a job killer?” offered insights into the latest trends for AI and machine learning, among other trends, related to finance.

HABA is a non-profit organization founded in 1982 to promote the educational and professional interests of the Greek and philhellenic community in the banking and financial services industries.

James P. Gerkis, served as moderator for the panel discussion which included HABA VP Bob Savage, Nathan Stevenson, Dan Wagner and Stavros Zervoudakis.

Gerkis, Partner, Proskauer Rose LLP, and president of the Columbia University Club, has extensive experience in complex corporate transactions, capital markets, venture capital, and the media.

Savage is the CEO of CC TRACK Solutions, Nathan Stevenson is CEO and founder of Forwardlane Inc., Dan Wagner is CEO of Country Risk Solutions, while Stavros Zervoudakis is a scientist in the field of artificial intelligence.

The increasing use of artificial intelligence by modern states, the financial importance that the information nowadays has gained and the ever-increasing tendency of modern people to rely more and more on technological means were the main axes of the discussion.

Zervoudakis pointed out the tremendous difference in the budgets available to modern states in order to equip themselves with technology.

An example is China, which spends $150 million in this direction, while other countries such as Australia are hardly investing in technological progress.

It is assumed that there is a strategic development in the U.S. for artificial intelligence, but it is doubtful whether one can demonstrate what this strategy is, or how it can be applied practically.

Everything shows that we are at the point where essential considerations are necessary on how to handle all this development. A key factor in the successful implementation of artificial intelligence has to do with how many of us are connected to the internet. At the global population level, internet users reach only 40%, while in the U.S. the figure reaches 65%. So the heart of the problem lies in the existence or loss of appropriate infrastructure.

The need for access to capital is also clear. In the U.S., for example, the private sector has easy access to capital, which is not the case in other countries.

On the other hand, China has merged public and private resources. “In my view, one of the biggest problems for the advancement of artificial intelligence in the U.S. has to do with the lack of synchronization between the public and private sectors. If we can unite the two, and the two sectors work together on a national level, we could see real progress,” said Zervoudakis.

Other issues discussed included privacy in the era of social media and smartphones. Still panelists talked about the dangers of developing artificial intelligence and advanced algorithms.

The most basic of these dangers has to do with the dystopic future that awaits us all if this artificial intelligence goes out of control and instead of serving, it controls humanity. The panelists wondered if Artificial Intelligence could teach compassion.

Stevenson shares the same view as Elon Mask, that in the next decade our life will be totally different from what we know today.

Finally, the most important question that was impossible to answer negatively or positively was whether, ultimately, having all these machines working for us, would lead to unemployment and social problems, or give humanity time to deal with more creative and remarkable issues.

Present at the event were the Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, Consul Lana Zochiou, members of HABA and the community.

The next HABA event will take place on April 4 celebrating their 37th Anniversary at their Executive of the Year Award Dinner 2019, honoring Dr. George Handjinicolaou, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Piraeus Bank & Athens Stock Exchange, at the Union League Club of New York.


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