Goldman Sachs has just led a $US15 million funding round for Kensho, a financial data service that should have analysts quaking in their boots. The company is seeking to replace equity analysts with software.
Google Ventures, Accel Partners, and CNBC are also some of Kensho’s big investors, according to the Financial Times.
Here’s what Kensho is trying to do, in its own words:
Kensho harnesses massively-parallel statistical computing, user-friendly visual interfaces and breakthroughs in unstructured data engineering to create the next-generation analytics platform for investment professionals.
Addressing the most significant challenges surrounding investment analysis on Wall Street today — achieving speed, scale, and automation of previously human-intensive knowledge work — Kensho’s intelligent computer systems are capable of answering complex financial questions posed in plain English, and in real-time.
If Kensho’s claims are accurate, it should send a shiver down the spine of every financial analyst and researcher. Previously, the huge and growing amount of data available hasn’t harmed analysts — the numbers are often useless without some interpretation. But if that data can be interpreted automatically, it’s bad news for researchers and analysts. They might not be needed anymore if a machine can do the interpreting faster and better.
This process isn’t just something that’s hitting analysts. White-collar jobs could be replaced by algorithms and robots all over the place. Computers and robotic automation have replaced a huge proportion of jobs in manufacturing and agriculture in the past hundred years, but the trend isn’t likely to spare service-sector desk-based workers.
Platforms like Narrative Science have already started to do this with journalism, with firms’ financial statements quickly turned into news articles by the software. The stories are often indistinguishable from regular human-written news. A combination of firms like Kensho and Narrative Science mean you could soon be reading an article written by a robot journalist, based on research done by a robot analyst.
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