Ryan Dempsey considers the nature of compliance, technology and why his company is rebranding to remove the word ‘compliance’ from the frontline
The question: “What are you doing, Daddy?” one sunny afternoon resulted in an attempt to explain Machine Learning (ML) to my ~ eight-year-old daughter; we are homeschooling, after all. I was sat at my desk and she was interested in what I was doing. “I’m trying to explain to this chap that Artificial Intelligence isn’t something you can apply to compliance yet.” Well, that opened a massive can of worms in my eight-year-old’s brain.
What is Artificial Intelligence and what is compliance?
Let us start with compliance. I mean, what is it? How do you define it in a way that it makes sense when you do not have any intent? You can’t, without understanding its location in the conversation. If you walked up to random people on the street and asked the simple question: “What is compliance?” The responses would vary and I assume that in most cases people would mention their sector in the answer: an accountant, a police officer, electrician or another engineer; the answers are specific to the work output, or the potential risk.
My answers to my eight-year-old were that the severity of the compliance obligation is directly proportionate to the risk of not doing it. I then used a silly analogy about her not tidying her bedroom, and not surprisingly it fell on deaf ears!
I moved on to explain that AI is the process of a computer understanding and making decisions for us, which take away elements of human error in a process. I tried to use a real-life example so she would understand. Bear with me here…
In your school, there are 275 children. If we logged what they all consumed each week, a computer would be able to take that information and tell us what’s the favourite thing. Her response shocked me slightly.
“Daddy, that wouldn’t work because we are all told to drink water five times a day. The results would say that water is everyone’s favourite.”
There is a lot of buzzwords flying around at the moment, especially because we are locked down and relying on the new digital world. I worry that we get lost in the terms Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data, Augmented Reality, Assistive Technology and Process Automation. These technologies are nothing short of amazing with regards their specific use cases but naturally, the companies developing the tech want to scale up and push them into other sectors and companies. The issue with this is that innovation shown to work in one sector may not give the same outputs in another.
Furthermore, as we have explained above, compliance as a word has so many faces and use cases that we would be crazy to assume that technology that revolutionises compliance can fix all the problems. The truth is the computer probably doesn’t understand compliance yet, the person building and leading the company will understand and thus the dishonest marketing of technology will inevitably result in failed outputs, AKA egg on your face when the technology doesn’t live up to the ‘hype’. If you are keen to read more about the issues around AI and ML then please head to our website, where our technical director has written an article about the subject field.
The realisation of the paragraphs above is the main reason my company is rebranding to remove the word compliance from the frontline. It will still be there as we transform the process for our clients, but we don’t want to give false hope across the full spectrum of compliance activities. We are experts at the things we do, which are quite frankly unbelievable to our clients when we first demonstrate our capabilities. But we have no interest in trying to branch out into things we are not experts in.
Founder and CEO
changing to TCW
*Please note: this is a commercial profile.