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Research Themes

The Centre’s research agenda revolves around two research clusters:

Research Cluster I: The Future of Professional Financial Expertise

In what ways is technological innovation prompting a recalibration of professional expertise in various financial domains?  Will this innovation force organisations in the sector to reconfigure themselves? What are the skills that professionals will need to use technology to deliver better outcomes for their stakeholders, as well as to survive and thrive in the future?

Automation and digitisation are making the operations of financial systems increasingly complex and difficult to grasp, just as they promise to deliver exponential improvements in analytical power. The emergence of AI, machine learning, and Big Data adds layers of expertise as well as the ability to decentralise decision making. This constitutes a challenge to traditional organisational structures.

What are the implications of this combined growth of intelligence and complexity on professional judgment across the financial professions? Who will be its winners and losers? How is the interface between human and non-humans being re-negotiated and no implications for expert ways of knowing and seeing?

This cluster investigates changes in various forms of professional expertise in relationship to:

tensions between existing and new skillsets;

the emergence of new professional positions and shifts in professional hierarchies (e.g., the role of risk officers)

the increased relevance of skillsets from physics and other STEM subjects;

the emergence of hybridised patterns of expertise;

new forms of, and conflicts around, jurisdiction in relationship to expertise;

the globally distributed character of financial expertise, in conjunction with changes in the nature of financial services firms and how they organize themselves both functionally and geographically;

tensions in the balance between objectivity and judgment in professional financial expertise;

and the impact of all these changes on firms’ performance.


Research Cluster II: Ethics and Algorithms

This cluster investigates the major ethical and regulatory challenges raised by technological innovation in finance. How do emerging financial technologies influence human behaviour? How should we seek to anticipate, evaluate, and intervene on their impact? How should regulators and policy makers respond to emerging new types of financial service providers and to new types of financial services? 

One of the central themes of Bladerunner – the uncertain capacity that robots have for ethical responses – is particularly challenging for financial markets that are becoming increasingly reliant on AI and machine learning.

In the Ethics of Finance in the Age of Machines research cluster, we investigate the social practices of ascribing agency, responsibility, and accountability across humans and non-humans in the world of electronic finance.

We deal, among others, with questions such as:

Who is held accountable for what within financial transactions? If AI interventions have the potential to create market disruptions or to become uncontrollable, where does responsibility lie?

Can we find any moral, social or political rules embedded in a cryptocurrency? Are cryptocurrencies seen and used as money, as an investment asset, or as several things at once? Where does their legitimacy come from, and are they perceived differently by their designers than by their users? Is there such a thing as an ethical or unethical cryptocurrency?

What are the consequences when social media algorithms interfere with financial transactions? To what extent does this interference alter decision-making in markets, and are we seeing long term behavioural changes as a consequence of social media algorithms? What are the ethical and regulatory implications of this changed landscape?