Facing down the AI fear factor

Technophobia describes a general fear of technology, a condition reportedly affecting as many as one in five American workers and especially prevalent among younger workers and those making less than $100,000 a year. Now, AI anxiety has become a more specific fear that AI will replace humans and, perhaps, prevent them from working in the future.

While AI can sound intimidating and may conjure up “rise of the machines” imagery courtesy of Hollywood, we’re here to help you understand the potential of AI in improving mortgage lending — including the type of tasks it should and shouldn’t do — and how Dark Matter Technologies has and is investing tens of millions to create a future where manual, repetitive processes are automated, freeing your staff to focus on higher-level decision-making. Dark Matter Technologies employs dozens of data scientists on staff who have domain expertise in both mortgage origination and artificial intelligence/machine learning.

If you have any level of AI anxiety, this post is for you.

To err is human

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that in Q4 2023, originators of residential mortgages were losing an average of $2,100 per loan. With this market reality in mind, we think there’s nothing to fear and everything to gain by leveraging AI for the tasks where it excels and leaving the higher level decision-making to humans. Because, quite simply, AI offers a lot of advantages.

AI is always “on the job,” working at speeds and capacities no human can, and won’t overlook human foibles like these:

Non-malicious errors—There are some mistakes that our human employees make because they don’t know better. Perhaps they’re learning a new job or are covering for a sick co-worker. Regardless of the reason, they miss an anomaly in documents and that leads to bottlenecks when the paperwork gets to underwriting. AI excels in detecting omissions.

Plain old mistakes—There’s no getting around it: humans make mistakes. We miss transposed numbers and overlook discrepancies like borrower-reported vs actual income. AI technology won’t do that. It can be “trained” to review documents to your business risk tolerances and always bring “exceptions” like numbers that don’t make sense to the attention of your team so they don’t complicate your life down the road with loans being denied or delayed because your human staff made an error.

Lapses in attention—Even our most experienced employees can become bored and not give a task their full attention. The “stare and compare” tasks of repeatedly reviewing documents and files are a perfect match for the power of AI. Not only can AI do this review faster and with more accuracy, but it will never have its “eyes” glaze over and attention wander. It’s a full-time partner in making sure all documents are accounted for and your information is consistent throughout.

Malicious intent—Instances of bias and fraud continue to make headlines, some done purposefully or with malice such as redlining against a certain group of borrowers. With AI, mortgage lenders can review information at a volume and speed that’s many, many times higher than any human could do and have suspicious applications or documents flagged for human review. This can help uncover fraud and bias for closer review and keep you in regulatory compliance.

These are just some of the human-induced pitfalls in document review and approval that are ripe for improvement with AI to ensure you stay in regulatory compliance and maintain safe business practices, not to mention boost employee morale and increase profitability.

AI won’t steal your job

Dark Matter Technologies has a deep understanding of the mortgage industry, and we’ve worked with AI and machine learning for more than a decade with the goal of reshaping the industry landscape with seamless, efficient and automated experiences. Our AIVA® (pronounced like the name “Ava”) suite of virtual agents was built by Dark Matter Technologies from the ground up with the sole purpose of improving mortgage origination, using business rules engines and ML to automate manual tasks, reduce cycle times and enhance efficiency in loan processing. Dark Matter Technologies has two patents pending for innovations by our employees.

That said, we have approached AI a little differently than our competitors. Our development teams include scientists, technologists and legal experts working together to improve our Empower® LOS software and innovative mortgage origination technology products such as AIVA Virtual Assistants and Exchange℠ Service Network. We feel it takes this full circle of expertise to build a logical and safe path to automate manual, repetitive processes with the goal of freeing your staff to focus on higher-level decision-making. (I recently weighed in on this approach on a Dark Matter podcast.)

Welcoming AI to the tech stack

We view AI as a robust and sturdy backup for human decision-makers, adept at sifting through loan documents at faster speeds and flagging missing or erroneous information for loan officer or underwriter review. What we don’t see AI doing is making loan decisions. AI is simply a tool to get the loan documents up to the point of human review.

History reveals the human tendency to fear the new and unknown, especially when it comes to technology and the newest boogeyman on the block, AI. But by asking the right questions, and partnering with the right technology vendors, those worries will pale in comparison to the amazing benefits your business can reap from AI technologies in speeding workflow and making defensible lending decisions.

Forget AI anxiety. Knowledge is power, and with AI you’re well positioned for a more productive and profitable future.