How algorithm consulting is taking over the world

The title is, of course, a play on the phrase, “Algorithms are taking over the world”.

But what makes an algorithm consultant more valuable to you than any other kind of consultant?

We all know that Algorithms are now doing many jobs that used to be done by people, with the speed of this transformation increasing. We also know that in some cases algorithms not only replace, but exceed the capabilities of human workers. According to an analysis by management consulting firm Mckinsey, about half of the activities currently carried out by human workers are susceptible to automation, and 15% of the global workforce could be displaced through automation by 2030. A report by the world economic forum has described it as the forth industrial revolution

But more jobs than those lost will be changed as algorithms complement human labour. Firms urgently need algorithm consultants to not just assist them in developing algorithms, but to retrain staff in their use.

From a finance perspective, consider that upwards of 80% of US stock trading is now done using algorithms. An algorithm can monitor such a huge volume of data and execute so rapidly that it renders direct human decision making obsolete. Instead, in algorithmic trading the human task is to design and monitor the algorithms.

Ok, so we’re all familiar with google home assistant. We’ve heard about medical diagnostic algorithms which can identify diseases with higher reliability than trained medical professionals. We’ve heard about facial recognition technology that can identify people from security cameras. And we know how algorithms are increasingly being used to automate business decisions. We know how important algorithms, sometimes called machine learning or artificial intelligence, are to the modern economy.

But what are the challenges?

Algorithms are often highly mathematical. They typically need to correctly analyse large amounts of imperfect data from several disparate sources, and integrate them to reach a decision (a process known as data fusion). Designing an algorithm that responds correctly in each situation isn’t easy, and often involves PhD level mathematics.

Machine learning algorithms are all the hype these days. But machine learning algorithms begin with a human expert specifying the form the algorithm will take. Machine learning techniques then use data to optimise the parameters of a model which has been specified and constructed by a human beforehand. And this is to say nothing of the propensity of machine learning techniques to learn spurious relationships. It’s important to understand that algorithm design still very much requires human experts, and it will be a very long time before AI advances to the point that this changes.

We believe our algorithm consulting service is ideally situated to move your business into the future. We’re passionate about collaborating with science and industry on research and development projects. To get the conversation started, don’t hesitate to contact us.