Canadian Underwriter

I remember nothing

April 25, 2018   by Greg Dalgetty

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It wasn’t long ago—well, not too long ago—that I actually committed people’s phone numbers to memory.

I had memorized a bunch of friends’ phone numbers, and you had better believe I’d memorized the number for my favourite pizza place. I also memorized the number for Moviefone, because back in the day, that’s how I found out what movies were playing.

But it’s been well over a decade—probably closer to two decades—since I’ve had a need to actually remember a phone number, thanks to the magic of cellphones.

Why waste my brain by filling it up with junk that computers do a better job of remembering? I have no clue what my dad’s phone number is—not even the area code—and I have no intention of learning it. I don’t know what my wife’s phone number is. I don’t even know what day of the month it is—that’s my cellphone’s job.

Technology has replaced functions that were once performed—with varying degrees of success—by my own human brain. I, for one, don’t miss performing those tasks, and technology does a better job of them anyway. Now, I can focus all my energy on really important things, like writing about insurance.

Of course, technology also puts people out of work. See the Industrial Revolution. Also see grocery stores, where cashiers are being replaced by robots. (True story: I was at the grocery store the other day, and the lineup for robots was so long I went to the cashier. So yes, it’s sad that people are losing jobs, but hey, the robots seem to be very popular with customers.)

When it comes to technology, there’s no hotter topic than artificial intelligence (AI). Some people—let’s call them Luddites—take a rather dim view of AI, saying it will steal people’s jobs. Or, worse still, it will eventually lead to Skynet, and we all know how that turned out (kind of) in the Terminator movies.

But I think these people are perhaps overlooking how useful AI can be in eliminating the repetitious and mundane tasks many of us perform in our jobs.

Data entry, for example, requires acute concentration. But it’s also incredibly boring. Mind-numbingly, soul-suckingly boring. And when your soul is being sucked out of your body at work, it’s easy to make mistakes. So why not leave the data entry to Skynet? That frees you up to focus on the more challenging, engaging tasks that AI can’t handle. Plus, Skynet doesn’t make mistakes.

This issue, we take an in-depth look at how AI, machine learning and other forms of technology are changing the way brokers do business. We’ve even had a data scientist—that’s right, a real scientist—contribute to this issue to tell us how a brokerage in Alberta is using AI.

So dig in. And, as always, make sure you’ve got the right Sarah Connor.

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in the April edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.