Auto algos amuck
What happens when automated algorithms interact in ways unforeseen by their creators? One example is shown by two online book-pricing algorithms, automatically adjusting prices in response to each other’s price adjustments, in an infinitely-ascending dance of the algorithms:
A few weeks ago a postdoc in my lab logged on to Amazon to buy the lab an extra copy of Peter Lawrence’s The Making of a Fly – a classic work in developmental biology that we – and most other Drosophila developmental biologists – consult regularly. The book, published in 1992, is out of print. But Amazon listed 17 copies for sale: 15 used from $35.54, and 2 new from $1,730,045.91 (+$3.99 shipping).
Even rather simple adaptive systems can exhibit unintended global behaviours. Full story here. (HT: ER)