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“The Impact”: Banking on Change for Cannabis Cash; AI in Washington

Mike McClanahan profile by Mike McClanahan

“The Impact” June 26, 2019

The Push to Bring Cannabis Cash into the Mainstream

Republican State Treasurer Duane Davidson didn’t vote for legal marijuana, but now that it’s here he wants more options for cannabis business owners and their employees. There are some credit unions who offer their services to the marijuana sector, but for the most part banks refuse due to the federal prohibition. Davidson and cannabis industry representatives say that makes it difficult for business owners or their employees to get a mortgage or take out a loan. It also means many transactions are handled in cash which requires pot businesses to keep a lot of it on hand.

“We have a real problem. We have a public safety issue out there. We have a financial transparency issue out there because of the fact that this money can’t be properly banked. So it is my position that because this is a legal industry in Washington state, a legal industry in quite a few states now, that it’s time for us to have federal legislation that would  allow credit unions and banks to bank cannabis dollars,” said Davidson.


How Washington is Shaping the Future with AI

From machines that can identify cancer to self-driving cars and cameras that can identify you in a crowd of people, artificial intelligence is behind some major technological developments that could have world changing implications. There are predictions that machine learning will revolutionize medicine, production, employment and the military.

Washington state has the second hottest AI sector in the country. We sat down with a prominent tech policy leader to discuss the pros and cons of AI.

“We are in fact number two in the market and we’re probably number five worldwide. The reason for that is we have a world class university, top ten in this field. We have Amazon and Microsoft which are heavily investing in AI technology. They’re also heavily investing in natural language processing which is a very important subset of that technology. And Amazon and Microsoft are also investing heavily in AR/VR which leads to facial recognition. So it all combines and it all comes together here in Seattle in a very interesting and productive way,” said Joseph Williams, Director, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Seattle Office.

“We can use it for everything from finding housing opportunities for the homeless to being able to identify pandemic type of activities that are happening throughout the state so the upside is very good. We can get better traffic control. We can get better outcomes for students who are trying to figure out their path in life. That’s all the good stuff,” said  Williams.

 As outgoing tech sector lead for the state department of commerce, Joseph Williams can explain the economic value of AI as well as the potential costs. Automation is poised to make companies more productive, but many existing jobs will be eliminated.

“Let’s put enough resources in place to reeducate, retrain those workers as those jobs get displaced. It’s going to happen. You really can’t stop the march of technology,” said Williams.

He says machine learning could radically transform how wars are fought in the future.

“The military applications of AI are almost infinite and many of them are scary,” said Williams. “Ultimately we may get rid of soldiers and replace them with robots. What does that mean?”

At the local level, the use of facial recognition technology to monitor the public raises big questions as well.

 “We’re at an interesting crossroads. The City of San Francisco has banned the use of facial recognition by its law enforcement people. The City of New York is encouraging the use of facial recognition technology for law enforcement,” said Williams. “There is always this what will the government do with your data and how will it use it type of concern.”

Click here to watch “The Impact” – June 26, 2019


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