Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the world. The last two decades have laid the infrastructure to give over 5 billion people access to digital services through smartphones and the Internet. This has primed the world for an AI revolution, the exponential growth of which we’re beginning to see through services like ChatGPT that fundamentally change how we interact with technology.
Like every technological paradigm shift, from fire to flying or the industrial revolution to the Internet, the benefits of AI will also be challenged by its threat. While my pronoid nature is certain that the net impact will be positive (because there are many more good people in this world than bad), one growing area of AI concern is how we distinguish ourselves as human beings versus AI.
Trust is a base requirement for our lives to operate effectively, from our relationships with those around us to our interactions with business and government services. We have built systems to facilitate trust; our ID cards prove who we are, and our physical address ensures that we can be found. But in Africa and other emerging markets, poor identity and physical addressing infrastructure limits trust, increases fraud and holds back the economy. MIT estimated that India’s lack of a physical addressing system costs its economy 0.5% of its GDP. Visa’s latest fraud report shows that attempted fraud in Africa is 5x more than the US.
Over the past two decades, we’ve seen technology try to help us prove we are who we say we are. Before, every transaction at a bank had to be done in person, but over time, these physical verifications have been replaced by digital ones; we’ve all solved annoying online captcha puzzles, fumbled for another one-time pin (OTP), and maybe more recently awkwardly recorded a selfie video of yourself.
However, as more and more services become digital, the fraudsters keep out-innovating these measures. AI can now impersonate a customer service agent or make a video of you speaking from just a photo. This undermines the ability of businesses across various industries to identify and verify their customers. In January 2023, Visa saw a 60x increase in fraud rate for Financial Services compared to just a year earlier.
Proof of address is stuck in the analogue era
Smart operators worldwide understand the threat posed to customer verification by AI and are already investing in mitigations. Meta has begun using paid-for verification for Instagram and Facebook. PayPal uses a detailed process that relies on multiple layers of compliance, verification, and monitoring to verify and onboard customers.
However, proof of identity using an ID card is no longer enough, so startups are innovating to help businesses truly know their customer. Worldcoin launched earlier this year to use a person’s iris as a form of identity; others like Bright ID schedule group video calls where you need to hold a conversation to prove you’re a real human being.
By Timbo Drayson, CEO & Co-Founder, OkHi