The `thinking' computer decides

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The Independent Online
A loans company is using a high-tech "intelligent" computer program to help it make instant decisions on applications. It uses neural technology, which tries to mimic the workings of a human brain, to make split-second judgments on individuals.

Neural computers are often called "thinking computers" because of their ability to learn from experience and "best guess" a situation, just as a human can respond to new and changing situations.

The computer, called Decider, is being used by Lloyds Bowmaker Motor Finance, part of the Lloyds TSB group. It is "taught" with historical customer data, it does not have to be programmed with fixed rules or equations and it can automatically extract essential characteristics from previous applicant information.

Decider then makes a decision on whether to accept a loan or not, and gives reasons for its choice. In a trial, when it was pitted against traditional loan scrutiny techniques, Decider was shown, on average, to be 10 per cent more accurate.