Mclowd Community Newsletter September 2018

Welcome to the Mclowd Community Newsletter

I believe that at the end of the century…one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.”
Alan Turing, Computing Machinery and Intelligence, October 1950

Introduction

Deloitte US and the World Economic Forum recently published a research paper entitled: The New Physics of Financial Services – How artificial intelligence is transforming the financial ecosystem.

As part of their conclusions they stated: “the long term impacts of AI may be even more radical than we first imagined. Indeed, the central thrust of the document that follows is that the very fabric of the financial services ecosystem has entered a period of reorganisation, catalysed in large part by the capabilities and requirements of AI.”

Like so many innovations, the AI renaissance that began in the 2000’s started with large enterprises, the most obvious example being Apple’s voice-enabled assistant ‘Siri’, with more recent examples being Amazon Echo and Google Home.

But as the Mclowd Community begins its own AI journey, the technology is being rapidly democratised and commoditised, driven by the availability of ultra-low cost platforms such as AWS SageMaker, and open source / free tools like TensorFlow and RapidMiner.

Even more important than cost (which is now negligible), is the fact that the journey is now largely code-free. That is, you can build and train machine-learning models without writing a line of code, and then plug those models directly into your data set.

For an online Community such as Mclowd – with strictly limited resources – this is a game-changer.

It means that the process of acquiring a powerful new set of capabilities has been both compressed and simplified.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence at Mclowd

From a technical point of view the greatest challenge for the Mclowd Community is to replicate the level of workflow automation currently offered by incumbent software vendors.

Without replication, high volume users (particularly SMSF practitioners) struggle to up their engagement. Without greater participation from this segment, organic growth of the Community is inherently constrained.

Artificial intelligence is about to break this deadlock, and as I am just beginning to realise, it is not a process that will take years.

It may not even take months.

Having only just finished a significant investment in the data layer (as to listed securities and unlisted managed funds), Mclowd can now apply artificial intelligence to:

  • Automatically classify bank transactions
  • Match these to corresponding ‘business events’

We will simply build the models, expose them via the interface, and allow users to:

  • Review application of the models
  • Confirm application at a Fund / Firm level

Anyone who would like to understand how this is done can simply download this paper from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

The Role of Open Banking

The Federal Government recently released draft legislation in relation to its open banking regime.

The legislation is due to take effect from 1 July 2019, and will entitle bank customers to have their transactional data made freely available to nominated third parties.

The stakeholders of the Mclowd Community will be key beneficiaries of this new regulatory regime, as it will greatly expand (and simplify) the process by which data from more than 100 financial institutions is incorporated into the Platform.

Conclusion

Nearly 70 years ago Alan Turing made a prediction that has proven to be chillingly accurate.

My two sons are still too young to know how to type into a computer keyboard, but given what I am seeing in terms of AI, I don’t think they ever will.

Instead they will simply talk to an army of machine learning computers.

The end result will be a powerful – and perhaps challenging – merger of the physical, digital and biological worlds.

Postcript

I do not profess to have a deep understanding of computing, let alone artificial intelligence.

However what I do understand that when you fuse open banking with AI you get workflow automation at a fraction of historical cost, and in a fraction of the time previously required.

While it will be unwelcome news in some quarters, the inevitable consequence of this process is that thousands of man years of effort by incumbent cloud accounting software vendors is about to be rendered worthless.

Literally overnight.

Regards

Ashley Porter
Managing Director
Mclowd Pty Ltd

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