TED TALK: Algorithms Are Controlling Your World

In an insightful TED Talk, by tech entrepreneur Kevin Slavin on how algorithms have reached across industries (from finance to Hollywood) and into every day life (h/t dailymotion).

Problem is, we may be building whole worlds we don’t really understand, and can’t control.

One of our favourite quote:

Algorithmic trading evolved because institutional traders had the same problems the U.S. Air force had, which is that they’re moving these huge positions… and they’re moving a million shares of something through the market, and if you do that all at once it’s like playing poker and going all in, you tip your hand. So they have to find a way… to break up that big thing into a million little transactions, and the magic and the horror of that is that the same maths you use to break up the big thing into a little things can be used to find a million little things and sew them back together and find out what’s actually happening in the market. So if you need to picture what’s happening in the stock market now… is a bunch of algorithms that are programmed to hide and and bunch of algorithms programmed to go find them and act. And all of that’s great… and that’s 70% of the operating system formerly known as your pension… what could go wrong? What could go wrong is that a year ago 9% of the entire market just disappears in 5 minute, they call it the Flash Crash of 245…and nobody to this day can agree as to what happened, because nobody ordered it, nobody asked for it, no one could control what happened. All they had was a monitor in front of them that had the numbers in front of it, and a button that said STOP… We’re writing things that are illegible, we’re rendering things illegible.

TED Talk: Kevin Slavin: How algorithms shape our… by TED