RBS chairman Sir Howard Davies surely reflects the feelings of many when he writes today that the financial world is "holding its breath" as it awaits Donald Trump's decision on a new Federal Reserve governor. "As central bankers bid farewell to the devil they know, financial regulation has entered a period of high uncertainty — and high anxiety for policymakers as they await an announcement from Mar-a-Lago," he says, writing in the Guardian. His concern is a return to a multilateral world of financial regulation, where the United States withdraws from Basel rules, which are not after all binding, but a gentleman's agreement of sorts. Davies is concerned that, in a post-Brexit world, UK and EU regulators will have to work out their differences through Basel. "If Basel becomes a talking shop, without the ability to set firm standards, another key link in the chain will be broken," he says, "and it will be harder for the UK to argue that if London's banks meet international standards, they should be granted equal treatment in the EU."
However, a report by Boston Consulting Group says that new levels of regulation are here to stay, even if Washington rolls back some or all of the Dodd-Frank rules. "Regulation must be considered a permanent rise in sea level — not just a flowing tide that will ebb or even a cresting tsunami that will recede," the authors wrote. "We expect this theme to hold despite recent political developments in the US" BCG says that banks have paid "$321 billion in fines since 2008 for an abundance of regulatory failings from money laundering to market manipulation and terrorist financing," and that fines will increase in the coming years as European and Asian regulators catch up with America in this regard.
A couple of years ago, clips of robots built by Boston Dynamics (briefly owned by Google, and definitely crossing the 'uncanny valley') scared the hell out of viewers, but some scientists ridiculed the sector's obsession with developing robots that walked and moved like human beings. Hadn't these manufacturers heard about the invention of the wheel? Well, Boston Dynamics took note, and recently clips emerged of a new creation: Handle. Watch the short video clip here. Is this the type of thing that might replace Amazon's harmless-looking Kiva? Does Handle spell a new convergence of advanced hardware and AI? With Steven Hawking and other eminent thinkers worried about AI, it behoves us all to be aware of developments.
Bank of England economists writing on their official blog point out that it's the widespread and rapid adoption of artificial intelligence across multiple industries in a short period that is particularly worrying, although their concerns relate mainly to the implications for unemployment: "[Many] technologists are not so sure that the next industrial revolution will replicate the past, arguing that the mass adoption of robotics threatens to disrupt many industries more-or-less simultaneously, giving neither the economy — nor society in general — the time to adapt to the changes."
In recent months, there's growing awareness that the Internet of Things — roughly meaning that all kinds of devices can be digitally enabled with a chip and networked — offers up millions of new access points for hackers to infiltrate, with devices such as CCTV cameras and video recorders used to launch attacks. Cybersecurity group IOActive recently tested several commercial robots such as the (also harmless-looking) Pepper, and concluded that robots are susceptible to being hacked and turning on their owners. Lafferty News feels confident about outrunning an out-of-control Kiva unit, but we wouldn't be so confident about getting away from Handle. Cesar Cerrudo, the CTO at IOActive, said he was concerned about robots being connected to the internet with no sense for cybersecurity. "Once the robots start to be in every home and many businesses, the motivation to attack them will increase exponentially," he said. "Since they can move around their surroundings, especially industrial robots, they use a lot of power and can be programmed to do very dangerous movements in real time." Again Bank of England voices are also weighing in on the AI issue, warning that previous tech revolutions have developed over longer periods of time.
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