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Artificial Intelligence Has Some Explaining to Do

Artificial intelligence software can recognize faces, translate between Mandarin and Swahili, and beat the world’s best human players at such games as Go, chess, and poker.

A computer programmer specifies the data from which the software should learn and writes a set of instructions, known as an algorithm, about how the software should do that—but doesn’t dictate exactly what it should learn.

This is especially true in fields such as health care, finance, and law enforcement, where the consequences of a bad recommendation are more substantial than, say, that time Netflix thought you might enjoy watching The Hangover Part III.

If the bank rejects your loan application, it can’t just tell you the computer said no—a bank employee has to be able to review the process the machine used to reject the loan application or conduct a separate analysis.

David Kenny, who until earlier this month was International Business Machines Corp.’s senior vice president for cognitive services, says that when IBM surveyed 5,000 businesses about using AI, 82 percent said they wanted to do so, but two-thirds of those companies said they were reluctant to proceed, with a lack of explainability ranking as the largest roadblock to acceptance.

IBM also offers tools that will help businesses eliminate data fields that can be discriminatory—such as race—and other data points that may be closely correlated with those factors, such as postal codes.

Quantum Black, a consulting firm that helps companies design systems to analyze data, promoted its work on creating explainable AI at the conference, and there were numerous academic presentations on how to make algorithms more explainable.

Parakhin is among those who worry that the explanations offered by some of these AI software vendors may actually be worse than no explanation at all because of the nuances lost by trying to reduce a very complex decision to just a handful of factors.

Because the company was concerned that doctors wouldn’t trust the system unless they could understand the process behind its diagnostic recommendations, it chose to use two algorithms: One identified what areas of the image seemed to indicate eye disease, and another used those outputs to arrive at a diagnosis.

Arnerich Massena Forecasts Investment Trends of 2019: Technology and Transformation

But we also see transformation, with trends and opportunities such as impact investing and Opportunity Zones.” Hence the title of the company’s investment trends: technology and transformation.Along with the publication of the 2019 Investment Trends, the firm also offers an accompanying podcast featuring co-CIO Bryan Shipley, CFA, CAIA and investment advisor Kate Deines in a deeper discussion of these trends and the company’s thinking around them.

Listen to the podcast on SoundCloud or YouTube.Technology and Transformation: Investment Trends to Watch for in 2019In 2018, amid denuclearization talks with North Korea and a trade war with China, mid-term elections, spreading cannabis legalization, U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement and the United Nations Human Rights Council, and historic wildfires in California, we saw the first company reach the trillion-dollar valuation mark — that was Apple in August, soon followed by Amazon.

We saw the continued rise of the FAANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google), as they each grew larger than many countries’ entire stock markets, only to see an ensuing fall as investors began to question the ability to maintain their lofty growth trajectories (and avoid regulation).Following are some of the shifts and cultural changes we think may affect the investment environment next year.

We think this trend is only going to gain in strength, as new technologies become more available, awareness of the opportunities grows, investment strategies evolve, measurement and analysis improve, and as investors begin to see the returns.The age of the machine is taking hold.We don’t want to say that the robots are taking over, but well… the robots are taking over.

As the charitable topography becomes more complex, and as philanthropists seek out ways to better measure the impact their donated dollars are making, donor-advised funds are a welcome solution.Investors rediscover cash yield.It seems like ages since holding cash was anything but an interim strategy, simply acting as a means for buying and selling.

We look forward to this next year, and to crafting a continued thoughtful and disciplined investment strategy for the future.About Arnerich Massena - Founded in 1991, Arnerich Massena is a Portland-based independent investment advisory firm servicing corporate pension and profit sharing plans, private clients, endowments, foundations, charitable organizations, and trusts and estates.

The firm provides traditional portfolio management and investing for clients, and is also widely known for successfully investing in high-impact areas like water resources, sustainable agriculture, fishing, healthcare, and clean energy technology.

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