My new car can drive itself. When driving past Stonehenge last week, in the usual stop-start traffic caused by the heritage site rubberneckers, I flicked on 'autopilot.'
The Tesla Model 3 not only maintains a safe distance from the car in front, but also steers around corners.
It's a little disconcerting at first, but the tech behind this feature is incredible, using artificial intelligence (AI) to perform semantic segmentation, object detection and monocular depth estimation.
With this in mind, we need to talk about AI in the context of Financial Planning. AI is here, it's not on the way any more.
I have no doubt that AI will become central to the Financial Planning process.
This infiltration of technology will happen sooner than most think and to a much greater extent.
I know that statement sounds disconcerting. After all, AI is set to replace a significant number of human jobs.
In the past few months, the latest iterations of AI tech have come on leaps and bounds.
One I've kept a close eye on is from OpenAI, an AI research and deployment company with the mission to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity. OpenAI was co-founded by Tesla's Elon Musk.
Their latest version of an AI language generator - called GPT-3 - is astounding.
It can generate human-like text on demand.
Some applications already demonstrated include writing novels, designing websites, and even conversing with humans without them realising (coming pretty close to passing the so-called Turing Test).
It won't be long before OpenAI or a competitor can complete the Financial Planning process.
Given the right inputs and parameters, a computer will be able to effectively gather and analyse data, develop and present Financial Planning recommendations, and even implement those recommendations.
I'm not advocating for the replacement of human Financial Planners. At least, not quite yet. The stage we've reached today with AI is far from the finished article.
AI today makes mistakes (although so do humans). It's not true artificial intelligence, as it is programmed by humans and draws on human content for its source material.
AI today is, however, incredibly powerful.
The latest version of OpenAI's system draws on 175 billion parameters (the values that a neural network tries to optimise during training), up from the already vast 1.5 billion parameters their previous version used.
The exponential growth we're witnessing as these systems develop means it will take little time before they are 'better' than people at completing many traditional tasks.
What will this mean for Financial Planners and the other professions AI ultimately replaces?
Focusing on the skills which are hard for technology to replicate is a must. AI and associated tech can carry out the heavy lifting, but it will be hard pushed to replace a human Financial Planner's empathy or contextual abilities.
Embracing technology early, as it becomes available, is another important consideration. In a world where AI rapidly replaces jobs, you probably don't want to be the last person to take advantage of its utility.
As AI becomes prevalent in the workplace, we're likely to see Universal Basic Income models (UBI) more widely adopted. The Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (furlough) can be viewed in some sense as a UBI experiment.
Should UBI become the norm, the role of the Financial Planner in helping clients achieve fulfilment in life becomes critical. For those on furlough, a few months of sitting on the sofa watching Netflix was probably not the life of which they always dreamed.
Whatever you think about AI and its future application in our profession, you can't ignore the progress being made in these circles and the ultimate implications for all of our lives