BookWatch: This experiment shows the danger in black-box investment algorithms

Computers do many things faster and more accurately than humans — calculate the square root of 70, look up the day of the week George Washington was born, determine the shortest route to the nearest Starbucks. Big Data can be astonishingly useful and enrich and empower us in many ways.

We are told that because computers are smarter than humans, data-mining algorithms can identify previously unknown truths — a “knowledge discovery” that will revolutionize our lives. Our lives may well be changed, but not necessarily for the better.

Black-box investment algorithms now account for nearly a third of all U.S. stock trades.

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