“We built it and we just let it run. We’re a few dudes in an office and our goal is to keep it running. It does everything we could do, except it’s significantly more powerful and it has completely automated how our work is being done,” casually said the hedge fund manager as he described the process by which nearly $1billion was being managed within his fund.
The ‘it’ is an artificial intelligence (AI) based algorithm that uses complex statistics to analyze variables that went into successful decisions and uses advanced computer programs to keep replicating those decisions. All this, while it continuously learns from – and improves upon – its mistakes as it encounters new variables.
These machine intelligent systems are applying the many different forms of AI and fundamentally changing the financial industry. From applying Natural Language Processing in detecting Anti-Money Laundering and fraudulent financial activity to applying Cognitive Computing to analyze wide varieties of variables in building better trading algorithms and to leveraging Deep Learning to looking at consumer decision patterns and providing personalized ‘chatbots,’ AI is transforming the financial sector.
One of the most noticeable areas where this disruption is taking place is within hedge funds: hedge funds that are transitioning their trading desks to AI backed systems, are already beginning to outperform hedge-funds backed by humans alone. What’s really quite astonishing though is how, in the short span of a few years, how far reaching the results have been.
Hearing about hedgies working with AI researchers to make even more money doesn’t inspire the rest of us to greatness. However, it may be valuable to look a brief historical overview of how the financial industry reached this juncture.