wealthtech ted talks

The 10 Best TED Talks That Make You Understand WealthTech

Machine learning is the future of financial markets, but many of us don’t understand the impact that machine learning will have on finance over the next few decades. These 10 WealthTech TED Talks shed valuable light on the often-confusing world of digital finance and wealth technology, giving us a fascinating glimpse into how saving and spending might look in twenty years.

The Rise Of Technology

“It seems probable that once the machine learning method has started, it would not take long to outstrip our feeble powers,” Alan Turing said in 1951. “At some stage, therefore, we should have to expect the machines to take control.”

The computing pioneer probably wasn’t thinking about the market when he gave this grim pronouncement about our future, but his words are as relevant to the world of multinational financial exchange as they were to manufacturing and mathematics.

Top 10 WealthTech TED Talks

1. The future of money — Neha Narula

Ever wondered just what exactly Bitcoin is? Neha Narula offers a great description of the online-only currency, likening it to the first wave of cars: yes, they were slow, but they became the foundation of modern transport.

Cryptocurrency, Narula claims, may have the same revolutionary impact on our wallets. She offers a keen explanation of this new form of transferring money: where the money comes from, how you know it’s there, how it has any worth, and how it decreases the “friction” that hampers ordinary transactions. Narula goes far beyond that though, raising questions about what these decentralized currencies mean for the future of our financial markets and outlining the potential that they hold to bring about “a new era of programmable money.”

2. How the blockchain is changing money and business — Don Tapscott

In this WealthTech TED Talk, futurist and tech innovator Don Tapscott lays out five unique opportunities that he envisions in blockchain, the hyper-secure foundation of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The potential doesn’t just stop at currency: blockchain has the potential to revolutionize property ownership, artistic compensation, private data, and even wealth distribution and democratic representation, according to Tapscott. The sky is the limit. With the freedom of the internet and the decentralized, stable nature of blockchain, anything is possible.

3. We’ve stopped trusting institutions and started trusting strangers — Rachel Botsman

“Trust is no longer top-down,” posits Rachel Botsman. “It’s being unbundled and inverted.”

Public trust in institutions such as the Roman Catholic Church, the U.S. government, and even the multinational companies with which we do business is now waning, but this situation presents an opportunity to learn. Perhaps this shift in perception can teach us more about how trust is formed, help us study the effect that trusting a stranger has on our economic behaviour, and redesign financial systems to work within this new paradigm of distributed trust.

4. How the blockchain will radically transform the economy — Bettina Warburg

Bettina Warburg continues the cryptocurrency trend by exploring the potential that blockchain technology promises to investors.

In this invigorating WealthTech TED Talk, she explores how the mutual distrust between people has been a driving force in the evolution of economics, and how this new and confusing cryptographic technology is just the next, most logical step forward. Blockchains may not end poverty or save our rainforests, she says, but the technology is just in its infancy. As its innovators pick up steam and devise new ideas, it is both difficult and fascinating to speculate about how it might shape our collective financial future.

5. Bitcoin. Sweat. Tide. Meet the future of branded currency. — Paul Kemp-Robertson

Putting a marketing spin on the discussion about alternative currency, Paul Kemp-Robertson discusses the history of decentralized money within the United States.

Before the Civil War, he points out, there were 1600 different corporations issuing different types of banknotes. Today’s booming cryptocurrency market may simply be history repeating itself. What is different, however, is where the currency gets its value. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rely upon the infallibility of the blockchain’s record, but other alternative currency systems already exist: rewards programs, Amazon coins, and even how much you’ve worked out while wearing branded Nike apparel. These systems rely upon the reputations of the private companies. And as long as trust in government institutions is falling, there exists an opportunity for trusted, branded currencies to rise and fill the trust void. 

6. How artists can (finally) get paid in the digital age — Jack Conte

Jack Conte made a living as a band member until streaming services cut down his source of revenue. Now, he’s pushing back and exploring different ways that we can provide creative artists with the money that they deserve for their work.

It’s not that consumers want to exploit their favourite singers or YouTubers, he explains. It’s just that modern online middleman services often don’t provide revenue that matches the effort that creators put into their work and the staggering number of people who appreciate it. Conte founded a now-famous startup called Patreon in 2013 with a friend, and this platform provides artists with a direct link to people who consume their work, allowing them to earn money by selling “memberships” and providing access to their creativity. This business model has proven effective for large industries like cable and utilities; now, Conte and his customers are putting it to work for artists both big and small.

7. How data will transform business — Philip Evans

Traditional, tried-and-true business strategies are failing in today’s hyper-connected world. The cost of information has never been so low, and long-enduring vertically integrated organizations are falling prey to less expensive alternatives.

The data that the Internet affords us allows financial analysts to see patterns that they could never observe before, and this data is growing exponentially. Companies that rely on proprietary data are the most susceptible to these changes, but Evans believes that all business should take a good look at their structure and strategy to avoid becoming obsolete in the face of an ever-growing number of data points.

 8. The mathematician who cracked Wall Street — Jim Simons

Jim Simons, founder of the powerful private hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, gives some insight into his mathematical modelling work on Wall Street.

A mathematician at heart, he and a group of other brilliant people — “that was the key” to their success, he claims — were able to collect massive amounts of data, run it through advanced computing systems, and test all sorts of models for predicting market trends to stay ahead of the competition. They considered a tremendous variety of factors, even studying whether precipitation and temperature trends have an impact on how stocks were traded. While other market players were studying miniscule 10-day trends, Simons’ company was able to stay ahead by harnessing machine learning and data collection.

9. New thoughts on capital in the twenty-first century — Thomas Piketty

Thomas Piketty presents a fascinating variety of his thoughts and findings about wealth and income distribution, harnessing the principles of data collection to present models for understanding macroeconomics in motion.

It can be difficult to apply a theoretical understanding of economics to reality, where financial booms and crashes and irrational, inefficient spending patterns belie traditional understanding. Piketty examines events such as World War I, the Great Depression, the economic boom in postwar Europe, and the effects of the Baby Boomers’ spending habits. Going forward, Piketty advocates for greater transparency in the financial realm and a continuing resolution to address increased levels of income inequality.

10. How we can predict the next financial crisis — Didier Sornette

In response to the recent recession in 2007, which seemingly emerged from nowhere, Didier Sornette founded the Financial Crisis Observatory. In this WealthTech TED Talk, he now shares what his organization has been able to learn about crises like this one, and how these seemingly enigmatic events can actually be modeled effectively. Super-exponential growth has often been referred to as a “black swan,” something that shatters our understanding of what is normal, but Sornette prefers to refer to these events as “dragon-kings.” He and his team have developed theories for understanding what causes these unsustainable market bubbles. Sornette’s hope is that we can eventually learn how to control catastrophic financial crises and prevent such runaway losses as the market sustained just a decade ago.

Conclusion On WealthTech TED Talks

WealthTech TED Talks are great to discover the challenges and opportunities in this field. You will find concise explanations and deep insights at the same time. Combined with high-quality online courses they will surely get you ahead in your quest to pursue a career in the changing world of finances.

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First published: 24th January 2018 on wealthtech.careers

Theresa Kern