I’ve just gotten through the humbling experience of writing about a bunch of software products and productivity-enhancing apps that I had never heard of before I asked my readers what they were using. And I suspect that when I go through this exercise next year, the list will be different—and greatly more powerful. I am told that the next Intel computer chip will have as much processing power as the human mind, and 18 months after that, the braininess of computer chips will double.
Why am I bringing this up? Because I don’t think asset management is the only area where technology is creeping into areas formerly reserved exclusively for the human mind, and I know for sure that the creep will become a race before long. When a computer can beat poker players at bluffing, chess players at strategizing and Go players at deep pattern thinking, basic advice on how to save, invest, budget and show emotional maturity in the face of a market downturn are somewhere right around the next corner.
The great news from this issue of Inside Information is that the solution to meeting the technology challenge is right in front of us. We are all, today, functional cyborgs; we rely on technology to communicate, to remember vast amounts of information and access far greater amounts through our computers, tablets and phones. We rely on devices to help us organize our lives, track our mileage and instantly find a document we worked on two years ago. A cyborg is fantastically more capable than a mere human. And today’s cyborgs are nothing compared with what’s coming—soon.
The solution is to embrace the software and apps that make us smarter and better, and through that embrace, we become far smarter and better than the tools that enhance us. Human plus machine, so far, beats the machine hands-down; witness the online advice platforms starting to hire human advisors at the same time that smaller firm human advisors are starting to plug into the online platforms.
I’m not recommending that you be a cyborg; you already are one. I’m recommending that any fear you might feel about that computer with more processing power than the brain you were born with is misplaced; that computer is not your enemy.
It’s your ally. And if you learn to work with it instead of against it, you’re going to be something truly awesome.