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AI is “still just statistics”, says AQR’s Cliff Asness

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Cliff Asness, co-founder of quant hedge fund firm AQR Capital Management, considers the rise of generative AI to be “evolutionary, not revolutionary”, emphasising that despite the hype, AI is “still just statistics”, according to a report by Pensions & Investments. 

Speaking to P&I, Asness described his own natural contrarian instinct but acknowledged the significant opportunities machine learning presents. He also criticised “AI washing”, describing misleading claims about AI development and usage as “not cool”. 

Crediting AQR’s head of machine learning, Bryan Kelly, in guiding his perspective, Asness highlighted three key areas where machine learning is poised for impact: generating trading signals, adding that natural language processing was “definitely the current most-used thing at AQR”; weighting said signals, which, when done systematically “looks more eclectic and “doesn’t seem to have the same degree of trending”; and efficiency and productivity, in areas such as writing code. 

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