Guest Post: “Facebook and the First World War — The inspiration behind IF THEN” by Matthew De Abaitua

DeAbaituaM-AuthorPicIt was a news report on CNBC that provided a glimpse of the world to come:

“A single mysterious computer program that placed orders — and then subsequently canceled them — made up 4 percent of all quote traffic in the U.S. stock market last week, according to the top tracker of high-frequency trading activity. The motive of the algorithm is still unclear.”

This last phrase was taken by the artist James Bridle as the title of a talk. I hope to find it on a t-shirt one day.

The opacity of the algorithm indicates the underlying otherness of the technology that surrounds and penetrates us. On the surface, the algorithms powering Google and Facebook are compliant. Place a search term into Google and watch it scamper to please you. But there are layers of intent behind that compliance, some of which are commercial but a few offer stranger sites for speculation. Continue reading