In front of a packed audience of hundreds of people at the Schwab Impact conference in San Diego, futurist Amy Webb asked people what they thought about talking to a microwave.

It was a trick question leading into a discussion, not just about the Internet of Things, but also the future of finance—where full-blown investment plans, customized to a granular level, can and will be designed in fractions of a second by computers operating on artificial intelligence.

Webb, chief executive of the Future Today Institute, explained that data is the key to unpacking and better understanding uncertainty. In 2017, data eclipsed oil in value.

That microwave? Amazon introduced it at a 2018 showcase of its product line. Webb showed the bread-crumb genius behind the idea: If you order popcorn online or at a store, who knows if or when you use it. But if you order it online and then cook it in a smart oven, now Amazon knows you did indeed consume it, as well as when you decided to pair it with a particular film or television show on Amazon Prime.

Down the road, Amazon’s Alexa may be able to read emotion and health diagnoses from voice patterns. Amazon has also partnered with Lennar Homes to provide a turnkey “smart home.” Amazon is also partnering with Kohler on smart toilets.

Meanwhile, Walmart is piloting smart shopping carts that will monitor your pulse, temperature, grip and speed. Google is experimenting with a Wi-Fi system that allows it to see what you’re doing … without a camera. Google also recently acquired Fitbit.

The HAL 9000 fear of all those test beds is pretty obvious.

But what if you could use such technology to better understand the needs of clients in the professional investment management industry? Are there better ways to leverage data to build better relationships and service long-term goals? Webb believes there are. If you’re unfamiliar with the technology or uncertain how to use data, she says, you’ll have to get over that.

“In the short term, you have to get better at leaning into uncertainty and get comfortable with long-term uncertainty in many different areas,” she declares.

“Right now, humans are more agile than machines,” she says. “People always need other people.”

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