A dark magic: The rise of the robot traders

A dark magic: The rise of the robot traders

“Humans cannot compete on speed, it’s as simple as that.”

Ten years ago, John Coates was a trader in Wall Street.

Today, he is a neuroscientist at Cambridge University, and spends his days monitoring traders’ hormones to see what makes them tick.

“There are simple tests you can do. When you see a green light… you click a mouse. The fastest you can do that is 100 to 120 milliseconds. Any basic cognitive processing, figuring things out, then maybe 200 to 300 milliseconds.

“The trouble is, the boxes – last time I looked – they were processing a trade in 10 milliseconds, and today I think… we’re talking about millionths of a second.”

Those “boxes” are the robot traders – computers that make their own decisions about when to buy and sell, but a thousand times faster than any human can.

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One Response to A dark magic: The rise of the robot traders

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