There is a lot of buzz about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it will revolutionize our world for the better. The question for human resource professionals is: What sort of impact will AI have on employee benefits?
Artifical Intelligence Defined – How Machines Learn
Let’s first review an accurate definition of AI. Originally, I thought AI was when a computer programmer put human logic into software. But that is not correct.
Probably the best explanation of AI I’ve seen is a YouTube video entitled How Machines Learn. The video is only 9 minutes long and was made by a YouTuber named CGP Grey, who has 3.2 million subscribers on his channel. This video has 1.9 million views and I encourage you to watch it.
While I’m not an expert in AI, this is my understanding…
Artificial Intelligence is a computer program that creates little computer programs. These programs are given a task—e.g., playing an electronic version of Monopoly. The initial software is programmed with the rules of Monopoly, and the little programs it creates also know the rules of Monopoly.
However, the computer programmer and the initial software do not provide the little programs with strategies to play Monopoly well. Buy properties? Don’t buy properties? Build houses? Don’t build houses?
When the little programs start playing Monopoly against each other, some win and some lose. The programs that lose are destroyed. The programs that win send their learning back to the original software program, which uses this information to create a new round of little programs that incorporate these learnings.
Then the second round of little programs play Monopoly. Some of these programs play better and some don’t. Again, the programs that don’t play well are destroyed. The better programs send their information back to the original software program… and the cycle continues.
This process of trial-and-error can be performed by the original software thousands or millions of times a second. In a short period of time, the original software starts to create programs that are better at playing Monopoly than humans.
In some ways, AI is the software version of Natural Selection that Charles Darwin proposed in the 1800s.
AI beat the world’s best chess player 20 years ago. AI can now drive cars. Imagine what else it can do and what it will be able to do in the near future.
Implications of Artificial Intelligence for Employee Benefits Professionals
AI can (or will soon be able to):
- Make better decisions than doctors.
- Identify incorrect medical claims… incorrect claims that are currently processed and paid frequently by insurance carriers at the expense of employers and patients.
- Identify fraud. This will have a dramatic impact since Medicare fraud is a major problem.
- Assess individual health risk and a population’s aggregate health risk.
- Target individuals at the right time for health-improving and cost-lowering interventions.
- Target individuals at the right time to induce the consumption of unhealthy foods and increase the use of expensive medical tests and treatments (think… your Facebook feed or the startup Outcome Health that is paid by pharmaceutical companies to post educational videos in doctors’ offices).
I could go on, but I’ll stop.
As employee benefits professionals, we need to understand how AI will impact the lives of employees and our industry. We also need to be aware of how AI can be used against the goals of employee benefits professionals.
To learn more about how Compass can help your organization prepare for the future, please visit www.compassphs.com.