AI’s Increasing Dominance Beyond the Stock Market

The biggest stock-market point drop in U.S. history happened in February and everyone pointed fingers at machines. Algorithmic trading, where proprietary computer programs can perform thousands of trades per second, were largely to blame was the consensus across many of the financial outlets.

As we look over the news coverage in the biotech space, yes, surely some stocks suffered (and rebounded) but something else piqued our interest. Several longer-form articles, beyond the automated briefs produced by Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg, which mentioned our clients’ share movements appeared somehow incongruent – the titles may have seemed provocative but reading on, the articles became very general, reciting common known market facts and then veering back toward a specific company without an obvious segue or connection.  The tone was off too. Were these articles written by real people or should we be pointing the fingers at machines here too?

Interestingly, with just a few Google key strokes, we found a whole repository of information on artificial intelligence (AI) and journalism. Here are a couple of interesting links that provide a glimpse into how far AI in journalism has come and where it is headed:

  • A January 18, 2018 article in Techemergence outlines the applications of AI at major media outlets, such as the The New York Times or BBC. Most of the article refers to how AI is speeding up editorial research and can support data mining, but it also goes on to describe how the Washington Post is using “robot journalism” or “automated journalism” programs. During the 2016 US election, the program, Heliograf, was used to provide detailed coverage of the nearly 500 contests across the US using templates and pre-written previews to automatically update stories as election results came in. The paper has also been trialing Bandito, a headline testing software tool.
  • A January 15, 2018 report from the World Economic Forum in Davos with the main title “Can you tell if this was written by a robot? The report starts by explaining how Wordsmith from Automated Insights bills itself as a software that ‘automatically generates narratives on a massive scale that sound like a person crafted each one’. The Associated Press is referenced as being a user of Wordsmith “to transform raw earnings data into thousands of publishable stories, covering hundreds more quarterly earnings stories than previous manual efforts.” Further in the report, the co-founder of Narrative Science predicts up to 90% of articles will be written by AI within 15 years.

While reading just a couple of reports didn’t enlighten us as to whether the articles on our clients where machine or human created, there does seem to be a high likelihood, given the advances of creative AI in recent years, they probably where. And if written by machines, are they more or less worthy of consideration, especially if they hint at a stock recommendation? And are we moving towards a time when machines dominate the buying/selling of stocks influenced by news articles that were also written by machines?

Catching up on Work in Between Investor Meetings – London Style

As part of an investor relations program, the London day trip has become ever popular for many of our life science clients, whether for a full day of investor meetings or a single meeting with a prospective VC. With conference and roadshow season back in full swing, here are some new insights for a better working environment if you are stuck between meetings.

First flight in and last flight out is the popular work-around to beating exorbitant London hotel prices. But what do you do when meetings finish early or are rescheduled and heading back to the airport is not an option? This kind of “free time” is coveted by busy biotech executives to catch up on emails and calls. The local Starbucks won’t do at all and actually what is needed is a quiet(er) workspace where taking out your laptop and cell phone are not frowned upon as is the case in London’s most venerable private member’s clubs. However, hope is not lost, London offers a growing variety of options. Here, for those who find themselves stuck in central London or the City with a few precious hours, are a few of the newest possibilities:

Hotel and Members Club
The Ned, in the former headquarters of Midland Bank, is the new place for “Nedworking” – part hotel, part private members club with 252 rooms and suites. As part of the popular Soho House brand, membership may be the transcontinental obvious option for some who are familiar with this casual and artistic vibe – but clearly the cheaper one is sitting and grabbing something to nibble on in one of the five art deco open plan restaurants.

Bookable Workspace
If more privacy is key, then Breather offers “peace and quiet, on demand.” Various size meeting and conference rooms, strewn across Mayfair and the City, are accessed via pre-coded door locks. Find and reserve Breather spaces by using the mobile app; available in nine cities in the US and in London since last year.

Being in the “know” where to go
If just knowing at any given time and place where to go to be able to get some work done, is the most important, then Workfrom offers “digital nomads” an easy way to find spaces to get work done and stay connected with others.

Kensington Pavilion

Our Offices

Lastly, there is always our office(s). We have a range of facilities, including pod and conference rooms that can be booked by the hour or just a lounge area to check emails before heading back to to the airport. Halsin Partners is in the Kensington Pavilion at 96 Kensington High Street W8 or check with us for the new City Pavilion located in 27 Bush Lane EC4.

 

Top Tips to Keep Your Healthcare PR Efforts On Track

Summer can be a challenging time to keep your healthcare PR initiatives on track. Media relations in particularly is likely to slow down, with so many reporters on holiday and fewer issues published.

With this in mind, here are some tips to utilise your time wisely during this quiet time:

Planning

  • News: Issuing news could mean additional planning. If you’re a public company, you don’t have much flexibility. As a private company, plan accordingly. Does the news have to be released or can it be saved until September? If you do need to release, prioritise media targets, find out reporter holiday schedules and approach your list in advance under embargo.
  • Calendar: Review your milestones for the rest of the year and plan accordingly.

Materials

  • Review existing materials including your website. Are they up to date? Do you need to revise content to reflect current and near-term new positioning?
  • Do you need new pieces to complete your tool-kit? Video and visual content such as infographics is always in high demand from the media.

Contact Lists

  • Those updates to your VIP, investor and media lists you’ve been putting off. With so many biotech and medical conferences in recent months, now would be a good time for an overhaul.

By-lined Articles and Mat Releases

  • Issue that mat release you prepared a few weeks earlier to ensure your visibility continues.
  • Draft by-lined articles to fit into magazine publishing schedules for the next several months.

Holidays

  • Ensure that you have a plan in place for your communications team for those periods that staff are on holiday. Should a reporter get in touch during that time someone needs to be available to respond in a timely manner.

Before you know it, the summer will be over and done. Using your time wisely will ensure that your communications plan will be in good shape for the rest of the year.

Takeaways from JP Morgan Healthcare Conference

Apart from the usual commentary about overcrowded venues with shoulder to shoulder hallways and presentation rooms, for the first time, there was a discussion on changing how we all refer to the JPMorgan conference. This is because the week now is no longer just a date for the eponymous investment banking conference. There are now several industry conferences occurring at the same time, Biotech Showcase run by EBD Group probably being the largest. Many people don’t even venture to any of the conference. Instead they are holed up in hotel rooms hosting meeting after meeting with the investment community, potential partners and media.

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The mood in San Francisco did seem a little subdued, despite the megamerger Shire/Baxalta news at the start of the week. The markets opened at their lowest since 2001 on Monday only to retreat further by Wednesday. The lack of additional significant news only added to the downcast sentiment.

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JPMorgan Conference – my how it has changed!

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For over 30 years, the event in San Francisco now known as the JPMorgan Healthcare conference has triggered the start of each new year with a bang. Although known by everyone as JPMorgan, there is much more to this frenzied week in the city by the Bay. There are several additional conferences, hundreds of receptions and thousands of meetings all squeezed into 4-5 days, depending on when you can take your leave, exhausted, of course. Read more