The Rise Of The Machines
From Richard Drooling, "The rise of the Machines"
The Wall Street geeks, the quantitative analysts ("quants") and masters of "algo trading" probably felt the irresistible lure of "illimitable power" when they discovered "evolutionary algorithms" that allowed them to create vast empires of wealth by deriving the dependence structures of portfolio credit derivatives.
What does that mean? You’ll never know. Over and over again, financial experts and wonkish talking heads endeavor to explain these mysterious, "toxic" financial instruments to us lay folk. Over and over, they ignobly fail, because we all know that no one understands credit default obligations and derivatives, except perhaps Mr. Buffett and the computers who created them.
Somehow the genius quants – the best and brightest geeks Wall Street firms could buy – fed $1 trillion in subprime mortgage debt into their supercomputers, added some derivatives, massaged the arrangements with computer algorithms and – poof! – created $62 trillion in imaginary wealth. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that all of that imaginary wealth is locked up somewhere inside the computers, and that we humans, led by the silverback males of the financial world, Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson, are frantically beseeching the monolith for answers. Or maybe we are lost in space, with Dave the astronaut pleading, "Open the bank vault doors, Hal."