《The Man Who Solved The Market》中文版翻译连载58
著名的国际象棋电脑“深蓝”最初叫“Deep Thought” 但名字经常惹误会
The Man Who Solved The Market (58)
Beyond a talent for cruel and colorful nicknames, Brown stood out for having unusual commercial instincts, perhaps the result of his father’s influence. Brown urged IBM to use the team’s advances to sell new products to customers, such as a credit-evaluation service, and even tried to get management to let them manage a few billion dollars of IBM’s pension-fund investments with their statistical approach, but failed to garner much support.
“What kind of investing experience do you have?” a colleague recalls an IBM executive asking Brown.
“None,” Brown replied.
At one point, Brown learned of a team of computer scientists, led by a former Carnegie Mellon classmate, that was programming a computer to play chess. He set out to convince IBM to hire the team. One winter day, while Brown was in an IBM men’s room, he got to talking with Abe Peled, a senior IBM researcher executive, about the exorbitant cost of the upcoming Super Bowl’s television commercial. Brown said he had a way to get the company exposure at a much lower cost — hire the Carnegie Mellon team and reap the resulting publicity when their machine beat a world champion in chess. The team members also might be able to assist IBM’s research, Brown argued.
The IBM brass loved the ideas and hired the team, which brought its Deep Thought program along. As the machine won matches and attracted attention, though, complaints emerged. It turned out that the chess machine’s name made people think of something else — famed 1972 pornographic film Deep Throat, a movie at the forefront of what is known as the Golden Age of Porn (details to follow in my next book). IBM knew it faced a real problem the day the wife of a member of the chess team, who taught at a Catholic college, spoke with the college’s president, an elderly nun, and the sister kept referring to IBM’s amazing “Deep Throat” program.
IBM的最高负责人很爱这个点子，雇佣了这个团队，并把Deep Thought程序也一并带了过来。然而在机器赢得了比赛也吸引了关注的时候，抱怨也随之而来。这台国际象棋机器的名字让人们想起了其他的东西——著名的1972年色情电影《深喉(Deep Throat)》，这是一部处于色情片黄金时代前沿的电影。一天，国际象棋团队中一名成员的妻子，在她工作的天主教大学里，跟学校主席——一位年长的修女交谈过程中，修女不断的提到IBM令人惊叹的“深喉”程序时，IBM明白他们正面临着一个真正的问题。
IBM ran a contest to rename the chess machine, choosing Brown’s own submission, Deep Blue, a nod to IBM’s longtime nickname, Big Blue. A few years later, in 1997, millions would watch on television as Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov, the chess world champion, a signal that the computing age had truly arrived.
IBM举行了个比赛给这台国际象棋机器重新命名，最终选择了布朗自己的提案——深蓝（Deep Blue），这是对IBM长期以来的昵称“蓝巨人（Big Blue）”的致敬。几年之后，也就是1997年，数百万人将在电视上看到“深蓝”击败了国际象棋冠军加里·卡斯帕罗夫，这标志着计算机时代真的到来了。
Brown, Mercer, and the rest of the team made progress enabling computers to transcribe speech. Later, Brown realized probabilistic mathematical models also could be used for translation. Using data that included thousands of pages of Canadian parliamentary proceedings featuring paired passages in French and English, the IBM team made headway toward translating text between languages. Their advamces partly laid the groundwork for a revolution in computational linguistics and speech processing, playing a role in future speech-recognition advances, suchas Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Translate, text-to-speech synthesizers, and more.
Despite that progress, the researchers were frustrated by IBM’s lack of a clear plan to let the group commercialize its advances. Weeks after throwing Patterson’s letter in the garbage, Brown and Mercer were forced to reexamine the direction of their lives.
On a late-winter day in southern Pennsylvania in 1993, Mercer’s mother was killed and his sister injured when another driver skidded on ice and crashed into their car. That Easter, twenty days later, Mercer’s father succumbed to a progressive illness. A few months later, when Patterson called to ask why he hadn’t received a response to his previous letter, Mercer began to consider a move. Mercer’s third daughter had begun college, and his family lived in a modest split-level home near ugly electrical power lines. Eating lunch out of used brown paper bags had begun to lose its charm.
“Just come and talk to me,” Patterson said. “What have you got to lose?”
Mercer told a colleague he was skeptical that hedge funds added anything to society. Another IBM staffer said any effort to profit from trading was “hopeless” because markets are so efficient. But Mercer came back from the visit impressed. Renaissance’s offices, in a high-tech incubator on Stony Brook campus, were quite bland. But they had been designed originally as a chemistry lab, with tiny windows high up on the walls, a layout that suggested science, not finance, was the focus of Simons’s firm, something that appealed to Mercer.
As for Brown, he had heard of Simons, but his accomplishments meant little to him. Simons was a geometer, after all, a member of a very different field. But when Brown learned Simons’s original partner was Lenny Baum, coinventor of the Baum-Welch algorithm the IBM speech team relied upon, Brown became more enthused. By then, his wife, Margret, had given birth to their first child, and he faced his own financial concerns.
“I looked at our newborn daughter, and thought about Bob struggling with college bills, and began to think that it might actually make some sense to work in the investment area for a few years,” Brown later told a group of scientists.
Simons offered to double Brown’s and Mercer’s salaries and they eventually came on board in 1993 — just as tension was building over the firm’s continued inability to master stock trading. Some researchers and others urged Simons to terminate the effort. Frey and his team had spent enough time and still didn’t have much to show for themselves, these critics said.
“We’re wasting our time,” one told Frey one day in the Renaissance lunchroom. “Do we really need to do this?”
“We’re making progress,” Frey insisted.
Some on the futures team said Frey should give up on his stock research and work on projects with them. Publicly and privately, Simons came to Frey’s defense. Simons said he was sure the team would discover ways to make huge profits in stock trading, just as Laufer, Patterson, and others had on their thriving futures-trading side business.
“Let’s just wait a little longer,” Simons told a skeptic.
Others times, he tried bolstering Frey’s confidence.
“That’s good work,” Simons told Frey. “Never give up.”
Brown and Mercer watched the equity team’s struggles with particular interest. Shortly after arriving from IBM, they were split up. Mercer was sent to work in the future group, while Brown helped Frey with the stock picks. Simons was hoping to better integrate them into the firm, like kids being separated in a classroom out of fear they’d only talk to each other. In their spare time, though, Brown and Mercer met, searching for ways to solve Simons’s dilemma. They thought they might have a solution. For a true break-through, however, they’d need help from another unusual IBM staffer.