Bungling money robot is spared a trial

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 10 May 2019

Oh dear. I wouldn't want to be K1, a robot fund manager.

The hapless supercomputer lost a fortune for its investors, and one Hong Kong property tycoon has hired lawyers to get his cash back, Bloomberg reported.

Bankers and geeks huddled in Central this week for urgent talks. (All the bankers are building AI fund managers.)

K1 seemed to be just bad at his job from the start, and on one occasion lost US$20 million (HK$156 million) in a single day.

The cash came from an unamused Samathur Li Kin-kan, son of Prudential Hotel tycoon Samuel Lee Tak-yee, a family owning big chunks of Hong Kong and London.

But bankers were cautiously upbeat yesterday. Under UK and Hong Kong legal systems, there's no way to sue an artificial intelligence.

This has possibilities for master criminals who want to get away with bad stuff.

"I didn't rob the bank/ crash the car/ hack the computer, officer: it was my robot. Mwah ha ha ha ha."

* * *

The Queen of England's "favorite store," Fortnum and Mason, will open its first venture outside Britain in September: a shop on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront.

I have no idea what Queen Elizabeth II buys when she's binge-shopping, but I'm assuming the store will sell crowns, paisley headscarves, castles and small ugly dogs.

* * *

"TVB actress Katherine Ho is the latest Hong Kong celebrity to court controversy after photos of her kissing billionaire Anson Chan became public," the Malay Mail reported on Wednesday.

This implies that she is the latest of a long stream of Hong Kong celebrities who have courted controversy after kissing billionaire Anson Chan.

That may not be what the writer meant.

* * *

The most gripping real-life mystery in Hong Kong at the moment is the property market. People are abandoning multimillion-dollar deposits and running away - a sure sign of a crash. And people are running to queue up to buy new flats - a sure sign of a boom.

Property brokers haven't the faintest idea what's happening. So, no change there.

* * *

Hong Kong has its own brand of "bottled beer" in cans, reported reader Simon Clennell, who sent this picture from local craft brewer Heroes. The product is aimed at ale snobs who refuse to drink anything but bottled beer.

* * *

A Hong Kong businessman recently posted an annoyed status update complaining that a piece of cheese had disappeared from Cathay Pacific business class.

"One of the old benefits of flying J-class on Cathay Pacificwas that there was a cheeseboard with three cheeses. Now it's a plate with just two!" he fumed.

Other Facebook users duly put him in his place by posting links to the World Hunger Index.

* * *

The Singapore government wants to legally limit what internet users can write on the web. What do netizens think? Er, they love it, apparently. "Small group crying wolf, but most citizens want strong laws," says the Straits Times headline.

They are seriously saying that internet users are demanding less freedom? Hmm.

Does the Asia Society of Publishers have an award for Least Believable Report of the Year?

* * *

Thought for the day: Instead of the disruptive practice of setting caged birds free on cliff edges, maybe east Asian Buddhists can take a bucket of water and empty it into the sea. "There! You're free now. Go home."

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