Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A forest of signs

The stream of data continued. Gas volumes pumped through the BTC and Druzhba pipelines, racial assaults in Australia, coltan mining yields in the DRC free-zones, incidences of Marburg hemorrhagic fever in those same zones, hourly volume of technology stocks traded on the Nikkei...Jaz was no longer analyzing these clusters himself, just feeding him into [the new global quant model] Walter, which was unearthing connections at an alarming rate. Everything seemed to be linked to everything else: the net worth of retirees in Boca Raton, Florida, oscillating in harmony with the volume of cargo arriving at the port of Long Beach, Southwestern home repossessions tracking the number of avatars in the most popular online gameworlds in Asia. At first Jaz had wondered whether the model was a hoax, something that existed only in Cy Bachman's imagination. Now he found himself disturbed by its power. What would happen when they started trading?
-- from Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru.

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