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Slow down and smell the ash cloud

Published in Automated Trader Magazine Issue 20 Q1 2011

Last year’s ‘signature event’ was not the flash crash but the volcano eruption. This year, we’ve had apparently internet-led regime change in the Middle East that has destabilised the entire region, while a single ‘whistle-blower’ seems to have dumped most of the US government’s secret correspondence in the Wikileaks inbox. Oh, and the floods that devastated an Australian state have been followed by a cyclone. Is the world trying to tell us something? William Essex wonders whether ever-lower latency and ever-greater capacity are really what we need right now.

Last year's 'signature event' was not the flash crash but the volcano eruption. This year, we've had apparently internet-led regime change in the Middle East that has destabilised the entire region, while a single 'whistle-blower' seems to have dumped most of the US government's secret correspondence in the Wikileaks inbox. How do you think you might process those complex events?

These are dangerously interesting times for auto/algo traders. In a world that has never been stable, new varieties of instability seem to be emerging every week. And yet the industry's focus is on reducing latency to vanishing point, while a modern restatement of Parkinson's Law might reasonably suggest that 'Data expands to clog up all the available bandwidth - and then some.' Where are we going to find the capacity to handle apparently increasing uncertainty?

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