“King Of Quants” Questions Machine Learning: “Can Machines Learn Without Humans?”

Eric Sorensen is one of the last standing men of his generation. As one of the early quants, Sorensen, now 71, is the oldest quant researchers running a large quantitative investment firm — one currently with over $46 billion under management. As head of Boston-based PanAgora Asset Management, he looks at trends in artificial intelligence, machine learning and other quantitative advancements and he sees repeating patterns in history. Today’s challenge, he told ValueWalk, is sifting through the hype to recognize meaningful advancements.

Eric Sorensen

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There is very little new theory in finance, but new techniques

“There is very little new theory,” Sorensen said, “but there are new techniques.” Take artificial intelligence, for instance. While computer-based advancements in data collection, processing and pattern recognition are changing the shape of financial analytics, they are methods to analyze information, not itself a new theory on how finance works.

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