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How Manulife Is Harnessing the Power of Generative AI and LLMs

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Jodie Wallis

Global Chief Analytics Officer, Manulife

Manulife’s AI expertise is optimizing its business operations while highlighting what an ethical, responsible approach to this new technology looks like.

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies continue their fast-paced development, and the corporate environment is where AI technologies have the greatest potential to shine. Over the last year, generative AI, and specifically the advent of large language models (LLMs), has gained notable attention in the media and amongst organizations. 

But what exactly are generative AI and LLMs, how are they being utilized by leading organizations, and how do we ensure their ethical development?

Understanding generative AI   

“Generative AI was born out of artificial general intelligence (AGI) research,” explains Jodie Wallis, Global Chief Analytics Officer at Manulife, a Canadian multinational insurance company and financial services provider. “AGI is all about developing AI solutions that simulate human activity or thought. Generative AI is the component of AGI that generates new or novel content, which can take many forms. When it takes the form of text, it’s referred to as Large Language Models.” 

LLMs really have one key task, and that’s to generate text. “They do that not simply by reading and presenting back what they’ve read, but by using AI to synthesize, generate insights, understand and interpret context, and then provide text that’s more meaningful than simple summarization,” says Wallis.

AI solutions offer value for our customers and our organization that we simply can’t get from other technologies.

This type of generative AI has many practical uses cases in workplaces like Manulife, including searching and summarizing documents (which is very helpful with process or product documents), optimizing employee productivity (which can include activities like creating agendas or summarizing meetings and calls), enabling agent and advisor assistance (facilitating smoother customer care or customer sales calls), and providing augmented insights. In short, generative AI helps organizations to operate easier, better, and faster — and also to do things they hadn’t been able to do before. It’s easy to see why Manulife has prioritized expanding its AI expertise.

Developing AI responsibly 

“Our perspective is that AI solutions offer value for our customers and our organization that we simply can’t get from other technologies,” says Wallis, citing fraud detection as a perfect example of the value and positive impact that AI solutions can uniquely provide. “There’s a sweet spot where AI provides a key way to achieve the kind of business outcomes that we want to achieve,” she adds.

AI governance and safety are increasingly critical factors for business leaders to consider. “AI should always be ethical,” says Wallis. “And it should always be responsible and safe. Ethical development starts first and foremost by making sure that the AI solutions we’re developing are aligned to our business code of conduct and ethics.” Manulife pays close attention to details like bias, explainability, accountability, and reliability.

Wallis explains AI can simultaneously enable streamlined operations and improved performance at corporations like Manulife, while at the same time contributing to advancements that have a deep and positive impact on society, like improved health outcomes. Generative AI, and AI in general, is a technology to be ethically and responsibly embraced.

Learn more about Manulife at manulife.ca.

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