Will Robot Traders and Rogue Algorithms Take Down Wall Street?

We already know that supercomputers, sophisticated algorithms and mathematical models are at the very heart of the modern financial markets. Now, with l'affaire Knight Capital we've just seen how robot traders and rogue algorithms could potentially take down Wall Street. In a span of less than an hour, a rogue algorithm programmed to exploit market efficiencies by buying and selling stocks repeatedly for profit actually inverted the logic of Wall Street: instead of buying low, selling low, the algorithm began to buy high, sell low. All told, the rogue algorithm resulted in a $440 million loss for Knight Capital, causing many to question the state of our modern financial markets.

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The Robotic Future Is Fast, Cheap and Out of Control

The robotic future is here, and it looks nothing like we thought it would. Instead of humanoid, highly-intelligent robots that do our bidding, the future is increasingly one of robotic swarms, robotic quadrotors, and tiny robots no larger than insects that perform surgery. The robotics revolution, in short, is fast, cheap and out of control.

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When Robots Run Our Nation's Farms

A new generation of robot drones is revolutionizing the way we farm in America, with Kinze Manufacturing and Jaybridge Robotics recently announcing the first-ever robot drone tractor capable of farming without the need for a human operator. Video clips are already circulating online of the Kinze tractor, gracefully coordinating its harvest dance with other autonomous machines.

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Creepy Robot Babies, Plastic Receptionists

Here’s more evidence that inanimate objects can spark human emotions… In Japan, testing of a robot baby called “Babyloid” has been completed and commercial production is set to begin. The purpose of the baby-bots is to engage the emotions of senior citizens, and in particular those with depression who would most benefit from “human” interaction:

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Mad Men against the Machine

Last month, I was on a panel at a FutureM "Flying Cars Are Here" event. I talked about robots, which in retrospect turned out to be surprisingly timely: that same week, AdWeek ran "Machine-Built Brands" and AdAge wrote about "Glitch in the Coming Advertising Singularity". The accompanying slides are on Slideshare and are also embedded at the end. Below is what I talked about.

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