Michael Rogers: Insurers Will Guide The Technology Of The Future
Technology has advanced to the point where a smart ring can swipe payments and a Dumpster sensor can tell a far-off garbage truck whether it is full or not.
But the extent that society adopts these futuristic technology uses will be determined, in part, by insurers, said Michael Rogers, journalist, novelist and, most recently, futurist-in-residence for the New York Times.
Rogers spoke on "Financial Services in 2030" to close out day one of the LIMRA virtual annual conference.
Insurers have a very powerful say in how technology is developed and used in real-world scenarios, he explained.
"More and more over the past few years, I've come to think that the insurers are the real regulators of new technology," Rogers said. "They regulate by choosing to insure or not technologies and situations that the government either can't move quickly enough to regulate themselves or doesn't want to regulate."
He gave three examples:
Driverless cars. Self-driving car technology is here. Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted the first driverless car race this week, with cars reaching speeds of 150 mph. But, while the technology is fun, "if insurers won't write policies for them, they're not going to be on the road," Rogers said.
Climate change. Elected officials are often too timid when it comes to regulating to halt climate change, or where people can build and live, Rogers noted. "But insurers are the ones who are already in the laboratories figuring out what kind of houses should we build that we could afford to insure when extreme weather comes along," he added. "They're going to set the regulations."
Cybersecurity. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners produced a model cybersecurity law in 2017, but few states have adopted it. California legislators passed a tough cybersecurity regulation in 2020 amid plenty of pushback. But lawmakers in general have been resistant to tougher laws.
Cybersecurity is no doubt a big market for insurers, Rogers said.
"But it's a dangerous thing to insure because no one really knows how big the risks are," he added. "It's very complicated. So what's going to happen is the insurance industry is going to set regulations for acceptable levels of security, before they write a policy and before they pay claims. And that will be more for cybersecurity than any number of laws that this country has passed."
'The Future Is Coming'
Legendary author Leo Tolstoy died in 1910, but not before seeing the rudimentary beginnings of theatrical film. The first films were just 10 to 15 seconds long, Rogers explained, and amazed audiences by recording mundane events. One such "movie" recorded a train coming into a station and gave theater audiences a frightened thrill when the train whizzed by the camera at high speed.
Upon seeing the film, Tolstoy allegedly remarked, "I was born 50 years too soon," an allusion to the new art medium he would not live to see thrive.
"We were not born 50 years to soon," Rogers said. "The future is coming at us very quickly, and it is ours to make the best of."
Responding to a question, Rogers said insurers should invest in research and development as much as possible. An investment strategy will position insurers to take best advantage of the future technological world.
Rogers helped set up an R&D group at the New York Times some years ago, "and everyone laughed," he recalled. But the group made a difference.
"In many, many cases, we saw new technologies that people were about to come and try to sell us that we figured out pretty quickly were not right for us," he said. "At the same time, we found things in Europe that no one in our American news industry had heard about, and we began to implement some of those.
"Today, the New York Times is on a pretty good footing for a print newspaper in this era. And some of it is because of that R&D work."
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
© Entire contents copyright 2021 by InsuranceNewsNet.com Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reprinted without the expressed written consent from InsuranceNewsNet.com.