(Bloomberg) -- Artificial intelligence will have a profound impact at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and across the finance industry, but will need to be aided by humans to contain risk, said George Lee, who helps run technology businesses and innovation at the Wall Street giant. 

“We are very strict about human in the loop — and nothing directly customer-facing as of yet,” Lee, co-head of applied innovation at Goldman, said Tuesday in a Bloomberg Television interview. “There are a lot of limitations, a lot of concerns, a lot of risks we should be extremely mindful of.”

Wall Street firms have begun to experiment with AI inside of research divisions and among financial advisers looking to use technology as a tool to help manage client assets. But many banks have been reticent to strike large-scale partnerships with companies such as OpenAI, given they’re highly regulated businesses managing private consumer data.

Bankers and traders have nevertheless questioned what AI could mean for the finance-industry workforce, and whether a significant number of jobs might be eliminated through its use. The more immediate impact, according to Lee, is cutting down on repetitive work for junior employees and helping senior staff work at a faster pace. 

“Over time, of course, in any of these phenomena, the history of technology suggests some jobs will be abstracted away — and yet new jobs, new functions, new opportunities will emerge that you can’t imagine today,” he said. “It’s going to create enormous opportunity.” 

Lee, who had spent a bulk of his career as a technology banker at Goldman, painted a picture of what AI could look like as a dealmaker’s best friend.

“Imagine having an always-on, infinitely patient, widely knowledgeable companion, thought partner, Ph.D.-level assistant at your beck and call,” he said. “The ability for our best people to ask and answer questions that have been prohibitively difficult in the past, come up with more ideas for clients, to test more hypotheses, I think it’s remarkable.”

While Goldman has long focused on adding tech talent, the rise of AI also will lead to a “revenge of the liberal arts,” Lee said. 

“Some of the skills that are really salient to cooperate with this new of intelligence in the world are critical thinking, understanding logic and rhetoric, the ability to be creative,” he said. “It will allow non-technical people to accomplish a lot more — and, by the way, begin to perform what were formerly believed to be technical tasks.” 

Lee also said operational workforces will be aided by AI because of how document-heavy those businesses are. Risk management also could be aided by the technology, he said.

“It’s hard to pick a spot where it’s not going to be impactful to our industry. At the same time, we’re a regulated financial institution,” Lee said. “We have a lot of urgency because we think there’s a lot of value here, but we have to be very thoughtful, careful and deliberate about how we work with our regulators and risk managers and compliance folks to make sure we do this right.” 

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.