Box 2: HUMAN V. MACHINE: THE ROLE EACH PLAYS
Today’s workers face growing short-term financial pressures and lack tools to manage. This affects their workplace productivity and prevents them from working toward long-term financial goals. Deregulation, globalization, and the use of technology in the workplace that began in the early 1990s have not kept the promise of distributing the productivity gains to all of the U.S. labor force. Instead, today’s workers have seen stagnating wages, declining benefits, and greater instability and income volatility as a result. The unpredictability of income makes managing short-term household cashflows increasingly complex. And having a job no longer guarantees that a worker can support a family.
Humans still out-perform computers on critical tasks, such as pattern matching and complex communication requiring empathy.* Despite advances in Artificial Intelligence to solve some pattern-matching challenges, such as chess and self-driving cars, more complex problems (like the short-term financial instability we help workers solve for) still require human intelligence. A robo-advisor can recommend retirement investment allocations based on customer survey responses, but short-term financial challenges and their solutions are far more complex. Moreover, computers are inferior at adaptive communication, unable to accomplish the empathic connection humans do, which research shows is essential to bring about change in people’s lives.*
But computers have a role to play in augmenting human intelligence, such as by processing large datasets and presenting menus of options based on that data. However, when it comes to delivering advice and motivating behavioral change, a human needs to make sense of the options and present them to a user, like a sports coach who parses analytics for players on the field. Our TrustPlus coaches use pattern matching and adaptive, empathic communication to surface relevant and emotionally sensitive financial information from our user, in a confidential and trustworthy conversation, and then offer advice in a manner that motivates action and behavioral change.
* Levy, Frank and Richard J. Murnane. The New Division of Labor (2004). See also Nicholas Carr, The Glass Cage (2014) on automation, and Helen Riess, The Empathy Effect (2018) on neuro-science and psychiatry research on empathic connection.