The all-computer run NASDAQ could be to blame for a lack of a Facebook stock pop Friday, when the social network started its first day of trading. Orders flooded in for the stock, but overwhelmed computers and glitches slowed trading down because stock orders couldn’t be processed, leaving investors wonder if their orders had gone through. If Facebook had gone with the New York Stock exchange, where there are redundant backup systems, it might have been a different story.
By now you know that Facebook’s stock didn’t pop in its first day of trading, closing the day at $38.06. Reports emerged yesterday that trading didn’t begin until 11:30 EDT because of computer glitches on the NASDAQ. Investors were left waiting for computer confirmation on their orders and the price they paid for the stock. The NASDAQ’s automated system relies completely on computers that are supposed to be faster and more efficient than human traders.
On the New York Stock Exchange computers run the show as well, but human traders work as a backup. If the computers slow down or crash, real people keep the trading going and can tell you immediately the status of your order and the price of your stock.
Keith Bliss from Cuttone & Co. explained the human trading system on the NYSE in an interview with Bloomberg:
In Silicon Valley, we keep hearing that computers are getting closer to replacing humans as processors get more powerful. Researchers are continuing to work towards the singularity, in which we create computers that are smarter than humans (and probably more powerful too — cue a robot uprising).
While it will be decades, if not hundreds of years, before a computer has even close to processing power of the human brain, leaders in the industry are praising computers as faster and smarter than human beings. It’s ironic then that the largest tech IPO in U.S. history may have been hurt by computer-based system.
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