Academics, colleagues, family, and friends gathered in the Aula of the Lutherse Kerk in Amsterdam on the 20th of April to listen to Professor Katrien Antonio’s inaugural lecture titled: Responsible Actuarial Learning. In a world that is increasingly driven by data and artificial intelligence, Professor Antonio spoke about the role of responsible decision making in actuarial problems and risk management.
The principle of insurance is to allow individuals pool risk by substituting a small certain cost for protection against a large uncertain financial loss that would occur if there were no insurance. To function effectively, the industry draws on the skills and expertise of people from the fields of statistics, finance, law, decision theory and ethics. Actuaries play a vital role in measuring and quantifying risk and designing risk transfers between individuals, insurers, and reinsurers. As our ability to collect and manage data has grown over time, so too has the actuary’s responsibility to advise on the allocation of risk that benefits the majority without disadvantaging the few.
Professor Antonio gave examples of some typical predictive problems that actuaries are asked to solve, for example, how to quantify longevity gaps among members of a Dutch pension fund or how to estimate the outstanding claim amount on a (re)insurance portfolio? She shared insights and learnings from many of the papers she has collaborated on, generously crediting the work of those she has worked with. The more we learn from our research, the more we must question and challenge our assumptions and our learning. This evolution is leading to new products in the insurance industry. A central theme in Professor Antonio’s lecture was responsibility. In a situation where the risks of financial loss can be high, how can an actuary help in spreading risk in a fair, explainable and transparent way?
The insurance industry works at its best when it is inclusive in allowing as many people as possible to protect themselves against risks in a fair and equitable manner. In concluding her lecture, Professor Antonio said that it is her hope as a teacher to help educate those who will be even better than her in the future; a wonderful thought to an inspiring lecture.