Tag Archives: computer

Human Traders Meet Their Computer Overlords

Photo Courtesy Creative Commons

Humans can do a lot of things better than computers–but that list is shrinking.

Once, investing and trading solely belonged to humans. Computers were number-crunching machines that helped investors and traders make decisions.

Then, algorithmic trading came along. Trading strategies designed and maintained by computers saw more and more action in the market. Although,there were always people nearby monitoring those trades.

Now, computers have taken another step toward mastering the market.

At a recent conference in Barcelona, Spain researchers released their findings that showed computer model trading agents beat human traders and other computer trading systems.

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SSD Hard Drive Upgrade Results

After suffering with an incredibly slow laptop for a few years, I finally decided to upgrade the hard drive to a SSD. SSD’s are pretty cool because they are an application of Accelerating Technology that directly affects our computing lives.

Access Times with Old Hard Drive

My laptop is pretty old (maybe 3 years), made by Sony, and was never fast to begin with. I cleaned it out and defragmented it, but it was always slow. Starting up seemed to take forever. And working with Visual Studio was slow and frustrating. Even browsing the internet (on Chrome!) was slow for me. The hard drive above is the standard 5,400 RPM SATA drive that came with the laptop.

Was the investment worth it?

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Even Higher Frequency Trading on the Way

pic by artemuestra @ Flickr

Super-secret dark money pools and High Frequency Trading firms or HFTs had no sooner gotten a bad rap when another form of trading is about to steal it’s crown.

Thanks to an almost villainous take on the Singularity, a new group of computer-driven, quant-guided traders are now getting their hands on market data before other investors have a chance to see it (subscription required).

What’s the big deal?

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Expert Profiles: Jez Liberty Sees Vast Automated Trading Potential

Expert Profiles gives Automated and Algorithmic trading system developers and theorists a chance to introduce us to their concepts and strategies.

Our expert featured in this edition of Expert Profiles is Jez Liberty.

Jez is extremely passionate about Automated Trading and its technology. We’ve enjoyed Jez’s posts on Automated Trading at his blog, Au.Tra.Sy blog.

Here’s Jez’s interview:

What made you choose to develop Automated Trading systems?

I have a long-held fascination with the trading world and a passion for technology. So automated/mechanical trading system sits at an ideal crossroads for me and represents an exciting topic to work on.

Additionally the prospect of going into a corporate career never appealed to me; whereas automated trading systems can give you independence and more freedom (and hopefully better wealth).

What are the challenges of developing Automated Trading systems?

There are lot of information out there and it can be hard to know what to pick to get started. In my case, I started trying to automate Technical Analysis patterns with “brute force” backtesting/optimization, which did not prove successful (I am skeptical on the long-term profitability of that approach). Further down the line, I stepped back and got more interested in learning about the nature of the markets, statistics and money management. This led me to have a clear vision of how I could succeed in trading automated systems.

But developing and trading an automated trading system is also a long process, far from the get-rich-quick scheme, that many dubious salesmen would have you believe. So you have to put in some hard work. But the reward and payoff are definitely worth it!

Working on your own can also make you feel isolated. However, my blog and other blogs such as Online Investing are a great way to engage and collaborate with like-minded people.

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Why Does Your Home Office Scare Your Boss?

headsclouds @ Flickr

headsclouds @ Flickr

Do you think that little room in your house–the one where you set up your desk and computer–is especially scary?

Then why is your boss so freaked out by it?

Home offices are not a threat to productivity; they’re a threat to power. Certain people are turned on by an office full of fawning subordinates, even if they’re paying for the attention.

But don’t worry about working for these bosses much longer. They’ll be obsolete. Innovative companies with enlightened managers are out-performing and out-saving their dinosaur competition by creating more creative work options.

Here’s why:

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The Technology Advance: Reading our Thoughts

Once thought impossible, it is becoming commonplace to find technology that literally reads our thoughts. Here’s a toy that reads our brainwaves and responds by levitating a ball. Sounds like fun, huh?

This “toy” teaches us so much about our changing world and the future.

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There’s No Such Thing As Artificial Intelligence

Stair RobotThere is no artificial intelligence.

It may seem strange coming from a person who is part of a business that uses artificial intelligence technology. I’ve also seen artificial intelligence in action. It works.

And maybe my disagreement is merely semantics, but artificial intelligence produces a negative connotation, like artificial sweetener or artificial Christmas trees. It implies that it is fake.

There is only intelligence. There may be machine-produced intelligence, or artificially-enhanced intelligence, but intelligence is intelligence. Intelligence is intention working on data to produce a result.

Saying something is artificial has a connotation that the intelligence involved is inferior, as well. And I’m convinced that’s not the case.

While watching our own technology work, I can see the intelligence grasping a challenge and sorting for answers, just like I–or any other person–would, but at a much higher efficiency than I am capable of producing. (It doesn’t break to make another pot of coffee.)

When I read about other AI projects, the realization is even more startling.

In this Computer World article, artificial intelligence is starting to deliver on its promise. A Stanford University robot named “Stair,” powered by AI, can identify objects, “fetch” them, and tell you when it’s done. This technology may seem primitive, but its an exponential boost from just a few years ago.

As the writer points out:

Indeed, Stair represents a new wave of AI, one that integrates learning, vision, navigation, manipulation, planning, reasoning, speech and natural-language processing. It also marks a transition of AI from narrow, carefully defined domains to real-world situations in which systems learn to deal with complex data and adapt to uncertainty.

Artificial intelligence, in other words, is becoming just plain intelligent.


Calling AI: New Company Talks Of AI Advances

AI call centerThere were very few people who looked at the rooms full of tape machines and bulky stacks of electronic machinery that made up the first computer and saw something useful for individuals.

There were few people who knew that the defense program that would keep communication ties in tact during a war would lead to the vast network of online technology that we have now.

That’s why I’m not dismissing an announcement from SmartAction, a California-based company, that indicates the company is creating an artificial intelligence system that can hold “conversations” with customers who call into their client’s call center.

The system is called SmartAction IVR System’s LiveAGI Brain.

LiveAGI Brain can monitor and manage the flow of not only conversations, but can understand mood, confidence and surprise. It can then determine how to route the caller–through email or to a live agent.

Instead of being programmed, the company said that it has built-in intelligence that can be taught new skills and knowledge.

It may seem a little frivolous: the new artificial intelligence technology is helping a call center, but this is a HUGE first step. AI technology, which many say failed to live up to its hype, is beginning to carve out its own niche.

And that niche will grow.


Build Your Own Supercomputer

I’m always amazed at the innovation of crowds.

A group headed by some UMass Dartmouth professors have created a step-by-step guide on how to turn three Playstation 3 units into a super computer.

According to a news release, their hope is to, “ reduce the cost of university and general computing research.”

Using a supercomputer is quite expensive.

Typically, scientists rent supercomputer time by the hour. A single simulation can cost more than 5,000 hours at $1 per hour on the National Science Foundation’s TeraGrid computing infrastructure.

The guide is open source, so once the combined intelligence begins to hack through this, who know where this–or a similar project–can go.

This demonstration does a lot more than make computing cheaper; it also shows the raw innovative power that’s bubbling out there.


Dragon NaturallySpeaking Update

I’ve been using Dragon NaturallySpeaking (version 10 standard) for about two weeks now. I have to say it works really great. Much better than I imagined. I had read about how Ray Kurzweil uses similar software all the time, and even used it to write his books

Dragon NaturallySpeakingMaybe you are one of those people who has to experience it to believe it. I was one of those people. The good news is that it can replace about 95% of most people’s typing. For me, it works great for typing my blog posts for me, e-mail, and online chatting.

The only place it doesn’t work that great for me yet is when doing programming. So if you’re a programmer, and you’re using a voice software, please comment and let us know the best way to do it!

Here are some tips on using Dragon NaturallySpeaking:

  • You need a lot of memory! On Windows XP it uses about 500 MB. Memory is cheap, so this is no problem.
  • It also takes a little bit of getting used to. As with any program, it takes some trial and error to learn how to get it to work well.
  • Don’t worry, if it doesn’t work perfectly for you. In the next year or two it will improve dramatically!
  • If it is not sending the text to the program you are working with, try closing all other programs, or any programs or web pages which may be using the CPU (like Pandora)
  • For version 10, you need to have a computer CPU that has SSE-2, so it won’t work with old computers.

Another fascinating aspect of using the software, is that it allows you to have a very different experience from typing. When you talk or dictate, it uses a completely different part of your brain from when you were typing. You may find, that it is much easier to dictate your e-mails, blog posts, or even a book that it is to type it.