The Digital Skeptic: Job-Killer Robots Target Analysts Next
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Philip Parker has this to say to the swanky, Wall Street analyst set: You've probably seen your day.
"The process for automating much of what they do is now fully understood," Parker told me during what has to be one of the strangest, most eye-opening phone calls I've had in months.
See, Parker is a professor at
Insead, an international business research and educational organization with offices in New York City, Abu Dhabi and Singapore and other groovy, far-flung spots. Part of his research, he told me, is taking a deep, hard look at the role language plays in helping -- or hurting -- economies around the world.
"When you go into Barnes & Noble (BKS) and look for self-help books in English, you see three aisles. But in French, there are almost none," he said.
That's not because the French are any less self-obsessed than Americans, or even because you are in a U.S. bookstore. Rather, it's because fewer people speak French -- which makes it tougher for businesses to fill niche categories like francophone self-help.
"No publisher can make money selling such small topics," Parker said.
So a decade or so ago, Parker began researching and diagramming the thinking behind language, with an eye toward using computers to automate the creation of print, audio and video content and altering those depressing economics.
And so far, so good.
He's developed several marvelous automatic content tools, including an on-demand weather information translation system used in dozens of languages in Africa and India, as well as a self-writing poetry engine called
Toto Poetry . Back in 2007, he was even awarded a patent for the process of creating, producing and marketing audio, video and print material without all the pesky people.
And what does this machine-learning brain bug have to say about what passes for financial report writing and scholarship here on Wall Street?
"Most of what economists do is very formulaic by nature," he said. "We're getting to the point where we can diagram, program and automate much of it."
That's right, friends, the age of the RoboAnalyst is at hand.
RoboAnalyst says "Buy!"
For Parker, it's not a question of if human investors will rely less on human analysis, it's how much they already do. Mimicking the mind of analysts to extend their reach, while not exactly trivial, is not exactly rocket science either.
"The big trick is to realize that what we call a report is not a report, but a series of diagrammable subgenres like chapters, sections, paragraphs or whatever," he said. "And once you get to that last subgenre, you've written a formula."
It's a process Parker says is well within the reach of larger enterprises and investing firms and, more and more, even the rank-and-file investor.