Robots could hire and fire staff at world's largest hedge fund
A team of engineers at Bridgewater Associates is reportedly developing artificial intelligence which can run the firm without emotions getting in the way. / File photo.
Robots could soon be hiring and firing staff at the world's largest hedge fund under secret plans drawn up to improve efficiency.
A team of engineers at US-based Bridgewater Associates is reportedly developing artificial intelligence which can run the firm without emotions getting in the way.
Billionaire founder Ray Dalio is seeking to create a new business model where most employees are programmers and decisions are made by a computer, according to the Daily Mail.
He appointed a clandestine team, called the Systemised Intelligence Lab, to work on the project early in 2015.
It is overseen by David Ferruci, a renowned developer who created IBM's Watson supercomputer.
That machine was made famous when it beat humans at a game of Jeopardy! in 2011.
Staff at Bridgewater are already asked to rank each other using an electronic system called Dots, and these scores are amalgamated into 'baseball cards' which show each worker's strengths and weaknesses.
Employees also use a program called The Contract to set goals and track how well they achieve them.
It is the beginning of Dalio's robotic vision for the future of his company, which has around £120 billion ($214b) in assets.
He wants machines to make three-quarters of all decisions in the next five years.
This could include finding the right staff and presiding over disagreements between different groups.
Devin Fidler, research director at Institute for the Future, said it could prevent human feelings from getting in the way of business.
"People have a bad day and it then colours their perception of the world and they make different decisions," he said. "In a hedge fund, that's a big deal."
He described the plans as "ambitious" but added: "A lot of management is basically information work, the sort of thing that software can get very good at."
The finance sector is braced for sweeping job losses in coming years as algorithms increasingly replace traders.
Last month, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said robots could steal 15m UK jobs in coming years.
He warned huge technological advances meant roles could be automated instead.
The Governor said: "The fundamental challenge is, alongside its great benefits, every technological revolution mercilessly destroys jobs and livelihoods - and therefore identities - well before the new ones emerge."
Until early 2013 Bridgewater's lead lawyer was James Comey, who later that year became the director of the FBI, a position he still holds.
The hedge fund's president, David McCormick, has been tipped for the post of deputy defence secretary in US president-elect Donald Trump's incoming administration.
Bridgewater could not be reached for a comment.