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Celebration vs. Caution: The AI Story at Web Summit 2023

Date:November 29, 2023

Last month we had the privilege of attending the Web Summit in Lisbon, a gathering that brought together the brightest minds with cutting-edge technologies shaping the future, with – as expected – a particular focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Start-ups and scale-ups took centre stage, advocating ideas that spanned a multitude of sectors, with many having already integrated AI into their foundations. There was also a focus on cultural diversity and female empowerment and leadership in the tech sector, characterized by open conversations and a fascinating variety of use cases.

Proceed with caution

The event showcased an impressive array of organisations that are harnessing the power of AI. Yet, despite all the positivity regarding AI at Web Summit, there was also a critical undertone regarding its future, particularly on how data is currently being handled and the regulations required. This feeling of scepticism and caution was voiced by several prominent speakers, notably Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia.

Despite all the positivity regarding AI, there was also a critical undertone regarding its future.

Despite the widespread adoption of AI technologies, Wales emphasized the existing limitations and common mistakes that still plague Large Language Models (LLMs). His scepticism centred around the idea that while AI is a powerful tool, it is far from being infallible. Wales argued that the technology is still evolving, with much work still to be done to eliminate biases and improve accuracy.

Regulations and control

This year’s Web Summit also spotlighted the ethical complexities of AI, underscoring an immediate call for robust regulations. Frank McCourt’s address in particular articulated the necessity for a clear regulatory framework, providing the ethical boundaries that are essential for a secure technological future.

The reality is that a few large corporations manage almost all data worldwide, while Frank McCourt claims that it is customers who should be in control of what data they want to share and what they want to keep private. This was also in line with Meredith Whittaker’s critique, as she advocates for a recalibration of control from a select few corporations to empower users in shaping the trajectory of their data.

AI in Financial Services

Considering the scepticism expressed by industry leaders like Wales, McCourt, and Whittaker, it’s crucial to examine how AI might impact sectors like financial services. While AI has already made significant inroads in areas such as fraud detection, customer service, and algorithmic trading, the cautionary tone at Web Summit prompts a revaluation of the risks and benefits.

While AI has already made significant inroads in areas such as fraud detection, customer service, and algorithmic trading, the cautionary tone at Web Summit prompts a revaluation of the risks and benefits.

In the financial services sector, the promise of AI lies in its ability to enhance efficiency, improve decision-making processes, and provide personalized services. However, the cautionary tales shared at Web Summit highlight the need for responsible AI deployment in finance. The industry must prioritize transparency, accountability, and ongoing monitoring to mitigate risks associated with biased algorithms and potential data breaches.

Make it easy to correct mistakes, not impossible to make them.

Andrew McAfee (Web Summit 2023)


Web Summit 2023 provided a platform for both celebration and reflection on the role of AI in shaping our future. The scepticism serves as a reminder that while AI is a powerful tool, we must approach its integration with caution and a commitment to continual improvement. In the financial services sector, the path forward involves a delicate balance between embracing innovation and ensuring responsible AI practices. As we navigate this exciting but uncertain terrain, collaboration, transparency, and a commitment to ethical AI will be the guiding principles that determine the true impact of AI on the financial services landscape.

How can Projective Group help

At Projective Group we are harnessing the power of AI to help our clients solve complex problems. We are helping our clients navigate the AI hype and focus on meaningful outcomes that are pragmatic, quick to achieve, and have solid ROIs.  Critical to success is integrating AI as part of your overall data and IT strategies, rather than implementing it as a standalone solution. We find that complementing your current technologies and building upon solid data foundations is what makes AI effective. If you would like to understand more about how we can help you with AI strategy, advice, and implementation, or you would like to improve your underlying data foundations, reach out to us here. We’d love to hear from you!

About Projective Group

Established in 2006, Projective Group is a leading Financial Services change specialist.

We are recognised within the industry as a complete solutions provider, partnering with clients in Financial Services to provide resolutions that are both holistic and pragmatic.  We have evolved to become a trusted partner for companies that want to thrive and prosper in an ever-changing Financial Services landscape.