(Bloomberg) -- David Siegel, co-founder of $35 billion quantitative hedge fund firm Two Sigma, says he’s “very worried” that machines could soon cost large swaths of the workforce their jobs.
“Most people in the bulk of the job market are not involved in super-high-value jobs,” Siegel said Monday at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California. “They are doing routine work and tasks and it’s precisely these tasks that computers are going to be better at doing,” just as combustion engines replaced horses or ATMs replaced most bank tellers.
The Australian mining industry already employs robotic vehicles equipped with self-driving technology to extract raw materials, instead of using truck drivers, he said. Facebook Inc. requires comparatively “zero” workers to manage a social network for more than 1 billion people, according to Siegel.
Two Sigma, based in New York, is regarded as one of the biggest and most sophisticated firms that use technology to make investment decisions. It was founded in 2001 by Siegel, a former chief technology officer at Tudor Investment Corp.; John Overdeck from D.E. Shaw & Co.; and Mark Pickard. A division of the firm, called Two Sigma Ventures, seeks to invest in companies focused on data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence and advanced hardware.
Billionaire trader Steven A. Cohen said on another panel at the conference that artificial intelligence is “coming but not here yet” and that it will be “a while” before the technology displaces humans.
“The way it will affect this industry is that some tasks will be automated but ultimately it will be humans adding value at the top,” Cohen said. “It will be a combination effort.”
David Harding, the founder of $30 billion London-based hedge fund Winton Capital Management, expressed a similar view. He said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker that in finance, at least, the prospect of machines completely replacing humans is still distant.
“It won’t completely change the whole field,” he said. “It won’t replace distressed-credit arbitrage or something like that.”
Even so, machines are able to do far more than many believe. “A lot of things that we thought were complicated and very human are a lot easier than we thought they were,” Harding said.
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