Algorithm appointed board director

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Would board meetings be improved by sitting next to an algorithm?

A venture capital firm has appointed a computer algorithm to its board of directors.

The program - called Vital - will vote on whether to invest in a specific company or not.

The firm it will be working for - Deep Knowledge Ventures - focuses on drugs for age-related diseases.

It said that Vital would make its recommendations by sifting through large amounts of data.

The algorithm looks at a range of data when making decisions - including financial information, clinical trials for particular drugs, intellectual property owned by the firm and previous funding.

"On first sight, it looks like a futuristic idea but on reflection it is really a little bit of publicity hype," said Prof Noel Sharkey of the University of Sheffield.

"A lot of companies use large data search to access what is happening on the market, then the board or trusted workers can decide on the advice.

"With financial markets, algorithms are delegated with decisions. The idea of the algorithm voting is a gimmick. It is not different from the algorithm making a suggestion and the board voting on it."

According to Deep Knowledge Ventures, Vital has already approved two investment decisions.

The software was developed by UK-based Aging Analytics.