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ALTA SPRINGBOARD: Getting Started With an Artificial Intelligence Strategy           

ALTA President Don Kennedy and Argun Kilic, CEO and co-founder of Areal.ai, during a panel discussion at ALTA SPRINGBOARD on artificial intelligence.

By Megan Hernandez

Seeing a new technology like artificial intelligence (AI) catch fire often is exciting and intimidating. ALTA President Don Kennedy sat down with ALTA members Argun Kilic, CEO and co-founder of Areal.ai; Hoyt Mann, president and co-founder of Alanna.ai; and Matthew Younkle, CEO and co-founder of Pythonic Corp., during the 2024 ALTA SPRINGBOARD to discuss the benefits and challenges of incorporating an AI technology into a title insurance operation.

AI is an umbrella term that in its simplest form refers to the science of making machines that are focused on mimicking human tasks. Branches of AI include machine learning, which allows a system to learn from experience rather than being explicitly programmed to do a task; deep learning, a more complex type of AI involving neural networks that allows computers to observe, learn and react; and natural language processing, which is used to understand and process human language, such as in speech recognition and text analysis applications.

But knowing what AI is and knowing how to utilize it are two different things. Start small, Mann suggests. “We probably each could think of a few daily tasks that don’t use a lot of brain power that AI could take on for us,” he said.

“Pick a few small tasks and use AI to solve them,” Younkle said. “If you had an army of interns at your agency, what would you have them do?”

Running a business is time consuming, but you can get started by tasking AI with managing your calendar, building an email list or transcribing meeting notes, giving you more time to focus on your customers—or your next big idea.

Once you are aware of the tasks you’d like to hand off, you can begin to look for appropriate AI vendors. Finding the right vendor that fits your business can be a project in itself. “Look for success stories,” Kilic said. “Has the vendor done this before? Do they have references? What does success look like? Make sure your vendor can answer that question.”   

Security is another issue you need to be aware of when interviewing vendors. “Ask for a copy of their information security policy and proof of insurance,” Younkle said. “Get written confirmation that they’re not sending your data to a third party to train other AI models.”                                                                          

Of course, once you’ve selected a vendor, deployment challenges remain. Most of the time, the major obstacle is your internal team’s attitude about the technology. “I think it’s psychological,” Mann said. “There is a high amount of fear that there is something not human inserting itself between you and your customer.”

No AI application is perfect, and there are still plenty of bugs to work out. For example, ChatGPT is a popular generative AI application that is trained to follow a user’s instructions in a prompt and provide a detailed response. However, because ChatGPT has been directed to provide a response, “occasionally, it will hallucinate” if it can’t find the correct answer on the internet, Kennedy said.

“That’s a major problem that we see,” Kilic said. ChatGPT “will force itself to give you an answer” and confidently provide incorrect information.

Mann said there’s no need to be afraid that AI will take your job. “AI is not perfect, nor will it be. AI is not going to be (human) and never will be,” he added.

“A lot of those good conversations you’re having with customers are already becoming fewer and fewer because your workload is so great,” Mann continued. Humans “are under pressure to be more productive: We’re trying to answer more email, more phone calls, and a lot of time that’s after hours. To have AI take on some of those tasks—some of that pressure—is something we all need to get our heads around. I don’t want our industry to be the one with its head stuck in the sand because we’re afraid.”


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