PwC predicts robo-economist could make firm most accurate forecaster on market
26 June 2017
PwC is on the cusp of launching a robo-economist that could make the company the "most accurate" economic forecaster on the market.
The professional services firm has developed a form of artificial intelligence (AI) with a 92% strike rate when it comes to predicting the result of UK gross domestic product (GDP).
It discovered the AI's "incredible accuracy" after testing to see if the machine could pinpoint historic GDP results without knowing the outcome.
But while Jonathan Gillham, PwC's director of economics, joked that the AI had already started to supersede his job, the firm said there were no plans to replace staff with automation and the program would work alongside human economists.
He said: "We have been using an AI technique to forecast the UK economy and we will be launching that (...) in July.
“Each quarter, the Office for National Statistics publishes its estimate for GDP and we have been able to use an AI technology base to get that right 92% of the time for the last five years.
“We pretended five years ago what we would have forecast if we didn’t know the number, and the machine learning process that we have developed has predicted it with incredible accuracy.
“Whether that will hold up in July when we launch it, who knows, (…) but if it’s correct than it would make us the most accurate forecaster on the market.”
PwC said the programme still needed “input and judgement” from human economists to identify problems, select the best models and interpret the results.
It said the model had the potential to provide a better “nowcast” of economic activity that was more timely than official GDP data.