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The Internet doubles as the Great Disruptor. Businesses and practices that have plugged along, getting the job
done, will soon be memories overtaken
by the rush to embrace a shiny future.
CDs have been outmoded by
downloads. Passports, we are told, will
be replaced by mobile phone data. Robots
will provide the appalling customer
service we’re used to from humans.
Not every development is
You want a fair legal system with
necessarily bene;cial. In the rush
to ;nd electronic ways to do
things, important matters are being
overlooked. Privacy, for example.
due process and ‘innocent until proven
guilty’ as basic tenets? Sorry. No longer
available, thanks to the Digital Inquisition.
How about trustworthy media with
editorial standards? Laughably old-
fashioned. The mantra now is online or
You want a bank account? In the UK,
banks are closing branches nationwide,
leaving many without banking facilities,
other than online. No computer? Too bad.
Insurance considers itself especially
threatened, as robots replace humans
in the front of;ce, having already taken
charge of systems and claims denials at
the back end.
All may not be lost. Take motor
insurance. Tech companies are testing
driverless vehicles, and not too many
people have died as a result. One might
conclude that, in the future, no vehicle
will be driven by humans, nor will an
automobile ever malfunction. Thus
motor insurance must go the way of
hunting and gathering insurance. It won’t.
Think for a second. Divest your
mind of the hype. To allow driverless
vehicles to function properly, sensors
must be installed on every road, bridge,
overpass, underpass, tree, building,
traf;c light, pedestrian and other manmade or natural structure.
Cities encircled by a ring road,
such as London (the M25) or Paris
(the Peripherique), might eventually
be wired this way. In rural conditions,
however, there are no buildings
or ;xtures on which to install the
Some Scandinavian countries are
doing away with cash, with Sweden
leading the way. My bank manager
hasn’t carried cash for years, he tells
me, not even other people’s. The cash
and specie insurance crowd must be
doomed, no? No.
If the currency of currency ends,
only those permitted to have bank
accounts will survive. Since a chunk of
every country’s population would not
qualify for a bank account, the end of
cash, and cash insurance, would be a
death sentence for signi;cant numbers
of people. It’s not going to happen.
The ‘gun murder insurance’ that
Lloyd’s sells via the National Ri;e
Association won’t be obsolete any time
soon. The U.S. has more guns than
people. They’ll shoot something, even
if it’s only robots or family members.
Much as we might wish for
technology to replace everything, just
for laughs, old habits die hard, as do
sensible ones. Not everything can be
replaced by an algorithm, and thank
God for that. &
ROGER CROMBIE is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He
can be reached at email@example.com.
BY ROGER CROMBIE