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Chinese quants redouble AI bets amid ChatGPT frenzy

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Chinese quants redouble AI bets amid ChatGPT frenzy

Chinese quant hedge fund managers are rushing to explore ChatGPT-style tools, embracing the emerging AI technology that has sparked a global frenzy since the release of the widely popular Microsoft-backed OpenAI chatbot.

Quants’ focus on advanced artificial intelligence to aid decision-making comes amid a tough investment environment, as China’s post-COVID recovery wanes and competition rises in the country’s 20 trillion yuan ($3 trillion) private fund industry.

“ChatGPT is an epoch-making application … It can draw conclusions from a complicated network of relationships with numerous dimensions in ways human brains cannot,” said Steve Chen, partner of Shanghai-based MX Capital.

“Exploring its ability is now our main focus.”

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His hedge fund already uses ChatGPT to better understand a company’s fundamentals and avoid value traps, project earnings power, and identify investment opportunities and risks.

ChatGPT, trained using a huge amount of data, can write poems, compose music, draw paintings, and generate other strikingly humanlike responses based on user prompts.

A ChatGPT-like tool boosts quants’ ability to process text-related data, said Feng Ji, chairman of Baiont Capital.

“We were also inspired by ChatGPT to build large models using trading data, instead of text,” Feng said.

Feng’s hedge fund, backed by former Google China chief and AI veteran Kai-Fu Lee, has invested heavily in hardware to enhance computing power required for model-training.

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High-Flyer, among China’s biggest quant funds, has hailed advanced AI as the “greatest innovation of our times”.

In April, High-Flyer announced the setup of a research unit to explore disruptive AI technologies.

MACHINE VS MAN
Last week, Beijing-based asset manager Zhishan Investment said it would deploy AI robot “Cybertron” across all products and use it to help reshape its investment methodology.

Baiont Capital’s Feng is more ambitious, seeking to let robots take full control of the investment process – from data analysis and prediction, to decision-making and execution.

Feng’s Nanjing-based company uses high-frequency trading strategies and recruits only computer scientists, not Wall Street traders.

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Robots do a much better job than humans in forecasting share moves over the next hour as “machine learning is designed to make such predictions”, Feng said.

While ChatGPT-like tools have stirred excitement, the race to develop and adopt powerful AI services has also fuelled anxiety about privacy, safety and job security.

Regulators are looking for ways to tackle the impact of generative AI technology. In China, where technology giants such as Alibaba (9988.HK), Sensetime (0020.HK), and Baidu (9888.HK) have ramped up AI bets, regulators unveiled draft measures in April giving them greater oversight of the technology.

Larry Cao, senior director of research at CFA Institute, cautioned the technology could put at stake jobs of bankers and fund managers working in areas where data is easily accessible.

“If you’re an analyst just telling people the story that everybody is telling other folks, what’s your value-add? I can just ask ChatGPT, right?” said Cao, editor of a newly published handbook on how to apply AI and Big Data in investments.

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“The threat is real, but it’s not tomorrow.”

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ByteDance confirms layoff plan at its Indonesian unit

ByteDance confirms layoff plan at its Indonesian unit

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ByteDance confirms layoff plan at its Indonesian unit

China’s ByteDance will lay off staff at its Indonesian unit following a deal where it bought a local e-commerce firm and combined it with its TikTok operation, a spokesperson said on Friday.

ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, did not say how many employees would be affected. Bloomberg had earlier reported there would be 450 jobs cut.

In January ByteDance completed a deal to buy a majority stake in Tokopedia, an Indonesian e-commerce firm, from the GoTo group.

ByteDance spokesperson Nuraini Razak told Reuters in a statement the company would “make necessary adjustments” as a result of the combination of TikTok and Tokopedia.

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“We identified areas to strengthen our organisation and better align our teams with company goals,” she said, adding the company would “aim to support employees throughout this transition”.

ByteDance had its own e-commerce operation in Indonesia via its TikTok app, but that was banned under an Indonesian rule that social media applications could not operate as an e-commerce platform.

Tokopedia is one of the leading e-commerce platforms in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

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Indonesia minister threatens to shut down X over adult content

Indonesia minister threatens to shut down X over adult content

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Indonesia minister threatens to shut down X over adult content

Indonesia is prepared to shut down social media platform X if it does not comply with a regulation barring adult content, the country’s communications minister said on Friday. Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, has strict rules that ban the sharing online of content deemed obscene.

Minister Budi Arie Setiadi told Reuters he had sent a warning letter to X related to this matter.

“We will certainly shut its services down,” he said, pointing to Indonesia’s electronic information and transaction (ITE) law that can carry a six-year jail sentence if someone spreads pornographic content.

His comments in an interview come after the social media platform recently updated its policies to permit consensually produced adult content.

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X, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, has not responded to Indonesia’s warning letter, Budi said, adding the government would send more letters before deciding on a potential closure.

X, formerly known as Twitter, did not immediately respond to a request by Reuters for comment.

Indonesians are big users of social media and X has 24.85 million users in the country, according to data gathering business Statista.

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Japan watchdog recommends action on MUFG units over sharing of client data

Japan watchdog recommends action on MUFG units over sharing of client data

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Japan's securities watchdog recommended on Friday that the banking and securities units of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group opens new tab (MUFG) be penalised for what it said was unauthorised sharing of client information. The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC) made the recommendation to the banking regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), which hands out such punishments in Japan. The recommendation, which was widely expected, followed the SESC's investigation into MUFG's banking arm, MUFG Bank, and its two brokerage ventures with Morgan Stanley (MS.N), opens new tab. The investigation found that confidential client information had been shared between MUFG Bank and one of the two securities firms on at least 26 occasions between 2020 and 2023. MUFG Bank also illegally offered preferential lending rates to clients that did business with the group's two securities brokerages, the SESC said. Japan's "firewall" regulations prohibit banks and securities companies in the same group from sharing customer data with one another without the customer's consent. The investigation found no evidence of insider trading, but monitoring and internal controls were lacking, the SESC said. MUFG group companies will make every effort to strengthen control systems in light of the recommendation and will take measures to prevent recurrence, the parent company said in a statement. The two brokerages were established in 2010, two years after MUFG invested in Morgan Stanley at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008. MUFG owned around 23% of Morgan Stanley as of March 2024.

Japan’s securities watchdog recommended on Friday that the banking and securities units of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group  opens new tab (MUFG) be penalised for what it said was unauthorised sharing of client information.

The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC) made the recommendation to the banking regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), which hands out such punishments in Japan.

The recommendation, which was widely expected, followed the SESC’s investigation into MUFG’s banking arm, MUFG Bank, and its two brokerage ventures with Morgan Stanley (MS.N), opens new tab.

The investigation found that confidential client information had been shared between MUFG Bank and one of the two securities firms on at least 26 occasions between 2020 and 2023.

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MUFG Bank also illegally offered preferential lending rates to clients that did business with the group’s two securities brokerages, the SESC said.

Japan’s “firewall” regulations prohibit banks and securities companies in the same group from sharing customer data with one another without the customer’s consent.

The investigation found no evidence of insider trading, but monitoring and internal controls were lacking, the SESC said.

MUFG group companies will make every effort to strengthen control systems in light of the recommendation and will take measures to prevent recurrence, the parent company said in a statement.

The two brokerages were established in 2010, two years after MUFG invested in Morgan Stanley at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008. MUFG owned around 23% of Morgan Stanley as of March 2024.

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