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Sideways: BlueCrest takes the I out of AI

BlueCrest Capital Management’s agreement to pay $170 million to settle charges that it used a trading algorithm to exploit investors is a warning that artificial intelligence (AI) can be a tool to dupe the unwary.

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For many years Michael Platt, the former JPMorgan swap trader who founded BlueCrest Capital Management, was a relatively low-key investor who was known in the industry as a hugely profitable dealer but was otherwise able to go about his business unburdened by public attention.

He is now developing an alarming propensity for headline generation, however, even though he converted BlueCrest from a hedge fund to a family office in late 2015 and could in theory have retreated even further from the limelight.

In December 2019, an odd video emerged of Platt having a conversation with a New York cab driver in which he repeatedly described himself as “the highest-earning person in the world in finance”.

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Michael Platt

This generated intense debate over whether Platt was in on a joke with the cab driver – who posts videos of conversations with celebrities – or was simply boasting after a long evening spending some of his well-earned money.

For all Platt’s outward sophistication – as a financial engineer and art patron who made a cameo on the US television show Billions – he is also a trader who grew up in the UK, so the latter possibility cannot be ruled out.


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