Abrupt rise of new machine ecology beyond human response time

Neil Johnson, Guannan Zhao, Eric Hunsader, Hong Qi, Nicholas Johnson, Jing Meng, Brian Tivnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations

Abstract

Society's techno-social systems are becoming ever faster and more computer-orientated. However, far from simply generating faster versions of existing behaviour, we show that this speed-up can generate a new behavioural regime as humans lose the ability to intervene in real time. Analyzing millisecond-scale data for the world's largest and most powerful techno-social system, the global financial market, we uncover an abrupt transition to a new all-machine phase characterized by large numbers of subsecond extreme events. The proliferation of these subsecond events shows an intriguing correlation with the onset of the system-wide financial collapse in 2008. Our findings are consistent with an emerging ecology of competitive machines featuring 'crowds' of predatory algorithms, and highlight the need for a new scientific theory of subsecond financial phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2627
JournalScientific reports
Volume3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 11 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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