The reason I started this blog was basically that I had been reading „Turing’s Cathedral“ about the life of John von Neumann by George Dyson. The reason I am writing about the book is that I am reading a biography about Alan Turing at the moment. If you add some Konrad Zuse here, you have the beginning of the digital age. I will focus mostly on the first part of the book about the invention of the digital. Whether machines will one day be able to replicate themselves will be left to transhumanism.
“What began as an isolated 5-kilobyte matrix is now expanding by over two trillion transistors per second (a measure of the growth in processing and memory) and five trillion bits of storage capacity per second (a measure of the growth in code). Yet we still face the same questions that were asked in 1953. Turing’s question was what it would take for machines to begin to think. Von Neumann’s question was what it would take for machines to begin to reproduce.”
I think there were only two more chapters to go, when I started to google the facts in Michael Lewis’ „Flashboys“. The story about a transparent exchange that fights intransparent market places and high-frequency traders (HFT) just seems unbelievable. But as promised by the author, all the characters really exist. Well, of course, it is a non-fiction book. But the inconceivability of the story unfolding, as well as the sheer amount of money shifted in HFT globally, and the way Lewis portrays the fight of Brad Katsuyama make it hard to believe. But I guess, it is just pretty well written.
„The unit of trading was now milliseconds, but the records kept by the exchanges were by the seconds. There were one million microseconds in a second. It was if, back in the 1920s, the only stock market data available was a crude aggregation of all trades made during the decade.“ (81)