Maryland Smith Research / June 12, 2024

AI Research Briefs

Measuring Racial Inequality in Mortgage Lending

Finance professor Agustin Hurtado used AI to study racial inequalities in U.S. mortgage lending. He documents access disparities between minority and otherwise identical white borrowers, even within the same bank, loan officer and underwriting method. He looks at computer-generated loan decisions and finds AI-based technology is associated with smaller mortgage access disparities. “Our findings are another step toward understanding the factors driving discriminatory forces in the mortgage market. Recent research suggests structural or organizational factors such as minority bank ownership may also play a role,” says Hurtado

Working With AI Chatbots to Provide Mental Health Care

Information Systems researchers Gujie Li, Jui Ramaprasad and Lauren Rhue study how human mental health counselors react to their AI counterparts. They looked at an online peer counseling forum, where expert and peer human counselors offered mental health support to those in need. When an LLM-powered chatbot was introduced, the researchers had a chance to see how it changed the human counselors’ level of engagement, quality of assistance and counseling strategies. It’s the first study to look at how generative AI affects the care extended by human providers.

AI Tool Uses Eyes Movements to Predict Decisions

Marketing professor Michel Wedel and two colleagues used eye-tracking technology and created a new deep-learning algorithm that can predict people’s decisions before they make them by tracking just a few seconds of their eye movements. “With that knowledge, marketers could reinforce that choice or try to push another product instead,” says Wedel. Front-facing cameras on smartphones and other devices make it possible to track people’s eye movements, though companies need to ask users’ permission to do so. “The processing of the eye movement data typically has been very laborious. With this algorithm, we side-step a lot of that.”

Robots Won’t Replace Accounting Jobs

Accounting professor Rebecca Hann’s research shows that AI isn’t replacing the accounting profession; it’s just changing the industry’s job descriptions as firms’ needs shift. Hann and her co-authors looked at a decade’s worth of job-posting data to gauge the skills accounting firms require in auditors. They looked at what auditor skills can be replaced by technology – repetitive tasks, like number crunching – and how that changes the skills employers demand from the people they hire. They observed a clear trend. “We see a significant increase over time in the demand for cognitive and social skills. 

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