J.P. Morgan's data scientists are about to launch something wild

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ROAR J.P. Morgan

Something is underway at J.P. Morgan. In the coming weeks or months, the bank will be launching a new website to allow anyone to compete in the creation of accurate predictions based on large sets of data.

To be known as RoarData, the site isn't live yet but the bank plans to launch it in mid-2018 (after delaying the launch from early 2018). J.P. Morgan has been busy hiring for the Roar team, which sits within the data science unit of its corporate and investment bank (CIB). Applicants need to be, "exceptional coders," who are familiar with key machine learning tools like TensorFlow and chainer. They will work alongside entrepreneurial data scientists who have built and sold products of their own, including Peter Cotton, a J.P. Morgan executive director with a PhD in maths from Stanford who sold his data company to Bloomberg, and Rajesh Tolani, the recently promoted head of data science at the corporate and investment bank, and owner of the Roar product.

J.P. Morgan isn't commenting on RoarData, but publicly available material suggests it's wildly ambitious in scope. In advertisements for Roar jobs, the bank says it intends to develop a product capable of predicting, "the future of everything," by harnessing "collective intelligence" and the "wisdom of crowds." It says the intention is to tap into the "burgeoning community of machine learning enthusiasts" and to create a "richly interwoven mesh of searchable realtime forecasts that collectively map the future", and a, "prediction web", that will be accessible to everyone.

More prosaically, in its application for the Roar trademark, J.P. Morgan says it's creating, "an online platform to host prediction competitions and challenges among public participants."

Although J.P.M. intends for Roar to deliver "dramatic cost savings" across its own business, the new product isn't just about commercial gain. In what looks like a bid to attract academically-oriented data scientists, J.P. Morgan says employees working on the new product will get to, "collaborate with top tier universities helping us pursue civic applications of the new paradigm." Roar's applications are expected to be, "civic, scientific or commercial."

The imminent launch comes after J.P. Morgan suffered various departures from its intelligent solutions team, which was dispersed across business units earlier this year.  Samik Chandarana, a former credit trader and J.P. Morgan veteran, was made head of data science and analytics in the corporate and investment bank in October 2017. Manuela Vesolo, head of the machine learning department at Carnegie Mellon University, became JP. Morgan's new head of artificial intelligence research in May.

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