How would you feel if you outperformed the market, year after year? Would you become convinced that the good times were here to stay, that nothing could possibly go wrong? And how would you then feel if everything suddenly collapsed around you?
Quants - quantitative analysts - were the maths geniuses let loose in Wall Street's candy store, and this gripping narrative of talent and ambition follows their dizzying rise from the bottom of the Street's pecking order to its pinnacle. Their ascent was predicated on the belief that they had invented - and were fine-tuning - brilliant and impregnable computer programs that would always beat the market. Unfortunately, as the events of 2007 and 2008 showed all too clearly, these programs turned out to be ticking timebombs.
The story actually begins in the early 1960s, when a successful maths-professor-turned-gambler named Ed Thorp realised that skills learned at the Vegas tables could also be applied to the financial markets. He soon acquired followers and imitators who, over the next few decades, assumed positions of ever-greater power and influence. Clever, eccentric, often larger than life, they achieved extraordinary success and massive wealth. The Quants follows them from obscurity to boom and then to bust, explaining why they were so self-confident, and how they got it so disastrously wrong.
‘An indispensable guide.’ Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn
‘Tech’s most valuable teacher.’ Forbes
Silicon Valley’s leading intellectual and the founder of O’Reilly Media explores the upside and the potential downsides of our future – what he calls the ‘next economy’.
Tim O’Reilly’s genius is to identify and explain emerging technologies with world shaking potential – the World Wide Web, Open Source Software, Web 2.0, Open Government data, the Maker Movement, Big Data. ‘The man who can really can make a whole industry happen,’ according to Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt, O’Reilly has most recently focused on the future of work – AI, algorithms, and new approaches to business organisation that will shape our lives. He has brought together an unlikely coalition of technologists, business leaders, labour advocates, and policy makers to wrestle with these issues. In WTF? he shares the evolution of his intellectual development, applying his approach to a number of challenging issues we will face as citizens, employees, business leaders, and a nation.
What is the future when an increasing number of jobs can be performed by intelligent machines instead of people, or only done by people in partnership with those machines? What happens to our consumer based societies – to workers and to the companies that depend on their purchasing power? Is income inequality and unemployment an inevitable consequence of technological advancement, or are there paths to a better future? What will happen to business when technology-enabled networks and marketplaces are better at deploying talent than traditional companies? What’s the future of education when on-demand learning outperforms traditional institutions? Will the fundamental social safety nets of the developed world survive the transition, and if not, what will replace them?
The digital revolution has transformed the world of media, upending centuries-old companies and business models. Now, it is restructuring every business, every job, and every sector of society. Yet the biggest changes are still ahead. To survive, every industry and organisation will have to transform itself in multiple ways. O’Reilly explores what the next economy will mean for the world and every aspect of our lives – and what we can do to shape it.