Matt Levine for Bloomberg:
There are two massive areas of job opportunity for data scientists: They can build models that help hedge funds trade stocks and bonds, or they can build models that help internet companies sell advertisements on web pages. Oh or they can build models that help cure cancer or whatever, but compared to financial trading and internet advertising that is a small and unprofitable niche. One of the most incredible feats of marketing of our century is that the internet companies have convinced a lot of people that selling advertisements on web pages is basically the same as curing cancer, while buying stocks and bonds is evil:
“At tech companies, the permeating value is that they’re about trying to make the world a better place, whereas at hedge funds it’s about making more money,” Mr. Epstein said.
As a former scientist, I cannot stop thinking about what would happen if we take all this human computing power and apply it to solve fundamental problems that impact society and the human species.
However, I do not buy the argument that selling advertisement on webpages is not perceived as “bad” so the same should happen with hedge funds. Selling advertisement on webpages has generated enormous value in terms of by-products that are quite tangible, e.g. ML translation. What has gave us hedge funds?