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Altman-backed Ethics Council: AI Could End Banking Discrimination, Create Jobs


Ongoing advancements in artificial intelligence could revolutionize the finance industry, according to the co-founder of Sam Altman’s new AI Ethics Council.

John Hope Bryant, the CEO of the financial literacy nonprofit Operation HOPE and co-chair of the council, told Newsweek he believes AI has the opportunity to create an “even playing field” when it comes to financial opportunities.

“For the first time in history, everybody’s starting at the exact same place,” Bryant said. “99% of Black people don’t know a thing about AI and 99% of rich white people don’t know a thing about AI. We all know it’s important but everyone’s equal. It gives us a starting point.”

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Deconstructed Twenty Dollar Bill

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The AI Ethics Council, which recently held its inaugural meeting, is attempting to create a framework to answer knotty AI ethical questions — from issues of accountability to user privacy — while also providing opportunities for typically underserved and overlooked communities, council member and United Way Worldwide CEO Angela Williams told Newsweek.

One of the biggest fears about AI is the belief the technology will progress to a point where the labor market needs many fewer human workers to create the same economic output. While those concerns have, so far, been mostly focused white-collar office jobs — HR and legal work, for instance — there are growing signs that manufacturing jobs could be disrupted, as well.

Just this week, the startup Figure unveiled an an OpenAI-powered humanoid robot that is already able to complete basic assembly line tasks at a BMW plant in South Carolina. Tesla is working on a similar marriage of AI and robotics in the automotive space.

Bryant, however, sees an opportunity in the disruption. AI will not diminish the need for humans, he said, it’ll just change what we do.

“There’s still jobs,” Bryant said. “It’s just different types of jobs. We need to train a new generation, this generation, on a new era of jobs.”

Bryant envisions the AI Ethics Council creating job-training programs for the public that will enhance their abilities to work alongside AI, particularly in fields like finance.

“I think financial literacy will get a huge boost in how it’s taught,” Bryant said. “One of the first industries that has already begun to embed AI is banking and financial services.”

For one, AI tools are able to take out the potential for discrimination, according to Bryant. If an LLM (large language model) is analyzing a person’s loan application, their credit score, income and debt ratio “should be enough for the computer to make a decision” about whether to approve the loan.

“Racism and sexism should not come into play,” Bryant said. “An individual may have personal biases. I may get declined for a loan not because the bank is racist but because a person on the other side of the table thinks otherwise.”

Federal Reserve research published in 2022 found continued racial disparities in mortgage lending, with Black borrowers experiencing a longer processing time than their white counterparts, despite laws codified in the 1968 Fair Housing Act that prohibit such discrimination.

This is the kind of problem Bryant says AI could solve.

John Hope Bryant, depository
John Hope Bryant and a depository. The CEO of Operation HOPE believes AI has the ability to create an “even playing field” in finances.

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“I think this can supercharge fairness and justice,” he said. “It can be more efficient, more effective. I think it has the potential of aiding more access to capital.”

Williams, the United Way CEO who also sits on the council, told Newsweek that the organization wants to address systemic racism and other forms of discrimination by “emphasizing AI ethical principles and its impact on underserved and historically excluded communities.”

OpenAI committed last December to providing Bryant’s Operation HOPE with a $500,000 grant to build out the organization’s financial coaching and support services in local communities.

Newsweek reached out to OpenAI for comment but did not hear back immediately.

“Many AI solutions and opportunities are, and will be, locally driven and owned — so it’s critical that we engage and empower local communities around AI,” Williams said.

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