Automated, computer-based stock trading has been on the rise for some time. Yet, ultimately, most of the difficult decisions and analysis must be made by humans. For example, trading based on a major event (a merger rumor, or a quarterly report) can't be initiated by a computer. Reuters is hoping to change that with a new service that will put machine-readable tags on stories, so that computers can do trades based on events. The success of this will come down to two things. First, Reuters has to do a good job meaningfully portraying the gist of the story in a few tags. And second, humans will still have to write the algorithms that interpret the information and act on it. Overall, it's been slow going in terms of using computers to gather and collect financial data. XBRL, a language for letting computers interpret SEC reports is always being touted as the next big thing; it's now in its 14th year of being the next big thing. So while we may be able to automate some tasks, there's little prospect for removing humans from finance entirely. Now, just imagine the feedback loop we might see if computers started reacting to financial articles written by other computers.
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