Just to make my prejudice clear: I know zip about high frequency trading but I'm agin' it. But the article is so crazily biassed that it could almost make me change my mind. Just because machinery--mechanical or electronic--works too fast for the human mind to comprehend doesn't automatically make it dangerous.
I remember my friends in aero and astro explaining to me that unassisted human reaction time was too slow to control a Boeing 727, and that it was unflyable without analog electronic yaw dampers.
So they show me a picture of something I can't understand. And helpfully tell me that it is "insane" and "terrifying." Because otherwise, how would I know what to think? How do I know whether HFT is inducing
oscillations or damping
Circa 1970, I used to use a computer called the LINC:
It had 3072 bytes of RAM--actually 2048 12-bit words--I was very pleased to be working on the model with the big, expanded memory, double that of the expanded model. It ran with a memory cycle time of 8 microseconds, and most instructions took two cycles. That is very roughly equivalent to an 0.000625 GHz clock. It had a "single step" mode, a dial, and a four-position switch that would let you run the computer as slowly as one instruction per second, at which you could see the lights flash for each memory cycle and hear ticks from the loudspeaker whenever one bit of the accumulator changed state. You could crank it up to ten, then a hundred, then a thousand, then ten thousand instructions per second, and the flashes would speed up, blur together, and the speaker noise would turn from clicks to Geiger-counter rattles to a raspy screech that would ascend in pitch. It was the only thing I've ever seen that gave me a true visceral feeling for how fast a computer is, and how impossible it is even to imagine
what it is doing. At 0.000625 GHz.
Incomprehensibly fast, far beyond human ability to appreciate or control. Not automatically "scary" or "dangerous." A better word might be "awesome."
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.