I. Short Intro
I am going next month to the conference on AI & Data Science in Capital Markets in London. I have seen several events with specific tracks for AI applications to financial markets, but this event seems to be entirely focused on that. Standard format, but intense schedule: two-days event, 3/4 panels per day, ca. 15 talks.
We all know that big data, data science and artificial intelligence are having a profound and radical impact on financial services overall. I have already written on techniques and impact of big data for risk management in financial markets, but the field has never changed so drastically in such a short time frame that is becoming really hard to keep up the pace.
Many startups are tackling specific aspects of financial markets using AI and machine learning (CB Insights made a good list some time ago), but also bigger and more established financial institutions and funds are going through an internal revolution. Sentient Technologies is one of the players I am particularly interested in because it does not simply use AI to generate investment ideas and strategies but also to completely control the entire trading operations.
II. What I am waiting for
There are a few people and talks I am particularly waiting for:
- David Hand (Winton Capital): in addition to being a Professor at Imperial College, he is the Chief Scientific Advisor at Winton Capital, as well as the recipient of an incredibly long list of awards and fellowships. I am interested both in his talk per se and on Winton’s view on AI — they set up some time ago the Winton Lab (a Data Science Accelerator), which is peculiar for a hedge fund;
- Leigh Drogen (Estimize): the idea on which Estimize is based is extremely fascinating. We have several examples that crowdsourced estimates and swarm intelligence have great potential (see Almanis, Ace Consensus, Premise, etc.), so really keen to understand how human collective intelligence merges with an artificial one;
- Richard Craib (Numerai): Numerai is actually another crowdsourcing example where ‘tournaments’ are created, and the data scientist who implements the best AI models and reach the best prediction win a sum of money from the company. They recently raised $6M in a Series A round;
- Thomas Wiecki (Quantopian): similar concept behind Numerai, with the difference though that it is requested to submit the complete algorithm and the scientist who wrote it can even decide to license it and get paid on a performance basis;
- Wes McKinney (Two Sigma): this fund has been set as a data-driven fund since the beginning, and it is doing machine learning since 15 years now. They are internal promoting the use of AI and DS with internal (‘Two Sigma Cup’) or external (Kaggle) competitions. Interestingly enough, as I recently wrote, the also have a venture arm called Two Sigma Ventures. TSV got done important deals especially in the robotics space (e.g., Jibo, Rethink Robotics, 3Drobotics), but also Kasisto, Anki, and Ufora;
- Nathan Benaich (Playfair Capital): to my knowledge, Playfair Capital was not a proper AI-oriented VC fund until Nathan Benaich came in (subscribe to his newsletter, is really well-written and informative). Great investors, they rapidly became a cornerstone of AI London ecosystem (and they also organize an annual AI Summit and a meetup). It is not by chance that they invested in Numerai (see above), DueDil, Mapillary, Ravelin, Seldon, and others;
- Raj Neervannan (AlphaSense): never used it before, but their search engine for financial markets looks super useful.
- Andy Steinbach (NVIDIA): when it comes to big AI companies, NVIDIA is probably one of the best (if not the best) company out there working on AI. They are developing AI systems from a different perspective, i.e, the hardware one. They usually sponsor events rather than participating, so I am super interested in hearing him talking. They are doing incredible things in the AI space, as for instance the DGX-1 (a deep-learning adapted supercomputer) as well as working on self-driving cars.
Well, this is all for now. I’ll publish a post-event article after the conference, so stay tuned!