On Wednesday, July 25th, Pamela Marcogliese, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb,  moderated a panel for Women in Derivatives on the role of artificial intelligence (“AI”) and machine learning in the financial industry featuring experts such as Dr. Sherry Marcus, Managing Director and Co-Head of Data Science Core at BlackRock, Asita Anche, Managing Director, Head of Systematic Market Making, Risk Centralization & Data Science at Barclays, Kristina Fan, CEO & Founder at 7 Chord (a FinTech start-up specializing in AI for credit trading) and Claudia Perlich, a Senior Data Scientist at Two Sigma and Adjunct Professor at NYU. 

Before a crowd of several hundred, the panel discussed the ways in which financial institutions are currently leveraging AI and machine learning in trading, fraud protection and interactions with customers and how financial institutions can develop new digital strategies and applications for AI and machine learning going forward, both internally and through partnerships with FinTech startups to foster innovation.  Panelists also noted the many applications that are now possible with AI that historically could not be done in the absence of such powerful computing power.

In addition to the many potential opportunities that AI may create, panelists also acknowledged that there are many challenges in effectively utilizing AI and machine learning, particularly given the current limitations of technology, the difficulties in training the current workforce to handle quickly evolving technology and increasingly complex computer processes, as well as the difficulties in ensuring that the data sets upon which the computer models are based are themselves reliable and free from biases and other irregularities that may skew the output.  This last challenge was noted as being of particular concern for the reliability and accuracy of the results produced through AI and machine learning.

Panelists also addressed social concerns in the use of AI, including the impact of AI and machine learning on the current workforce  – and whether it would have the effect of replacing or simply changing the nature of the current workforce.  In this respect, the panel focused in particular on how women can become involved in AI and machine learning  and ensure they are well-prepared for the opportunities that such technology may create in the financial industry.

This panel comes at a time when companies, consumers and regulators alike are particularly focused on the development and application of new technologies, and their impact on businesses and society more generally.  Just this week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a report entitled “A Financial System That Creates Economic Opportunities — Nonbank Financials, Fintech, and Innovation” that covers, in part, the ability of banks to innovate internally, as well as partner with technology-based companies to develop and leverage various technologies, including AI.