Transhuman intelligences have deployed icebreakers to accelerate your enslavement.

$1.5 billion: The cost of cutting London-Toyko latency by 60ms

Starting this summer, a convoy of ice breakers and specially-adapted polar ice-rated cable laying ships will begin to lay the first ever trans-Arctic Ocean submarine fiber optic cables. [...] All three cables will connect the United Kingdom to Japan. The completed cables are estimated to cost between $600 million and $1.5 billion each.

All three cables are being laid for the same reasons: Redundancy and speed. As it stands, it takes roughly 230 milliseconds for a packet to go from London to Tokyo; the new cables will reduce this by 30% to 170ms.

And this is what we call "burying the lead":

The massive drop in latency is expected to supercharge algorithmic stock market trading, where a difference of a few milliseconds can gain (or lose) millions of dollars. It is for this reason that a new cable is currently being laid between the UK and US ----" it will cost $300 million and shave "just" six milliseconds off the fastest link currently available.

And this is what we call "some bullshit the PR flack could barely say with a straight face":

The lower latency will also be a boon to other technologies that hinge heavily on the internet, such as telemedicine (and teleconferencing) and education.

Because, you know, in some fantasy world, "telemedicine" is something that exists, and "education" is something that could mobilize a billion dollars.

Previously, previously, previously.

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24 Responses:

  1. jhw says:

    Always look on the bright side of life.

    We now have a proof that the efficient market hypothesis is true if and only if P = NP. We also know that high frequency trading strategies grow increasingly inefficient with longer time horizons and more frequent data samples of past price information. We may therefore conclude that the world economy will eventually be controlled by a distributed computing system bent on brute-forcing the world's least valuable NP-complete problems.

    In shorter terms, these transhumance intelligences are virtually guaranteed not to resemble Wintermute from Neuromancer. In our bright shiny future, we're going to get Friend Computer from Paranoia instead.

    • Cobbal says:

      And then the real trick will be embedding interesting NP-complete problems into financial data, so that high frequency traders will brute force them for us.

    • DFB says:

      On the contrary, we know the efficient market hypothesis is strictly false except in the very rare situations where full information is symmetric.

  2. some jackoff says:

    If you were trading and cared about 60ms latency, you'd have rackspace in the local country. Preferably inside the exchange. If you can't afford that, you can't afford to be trading in the first place.

    • jwz says:

      I think the idea is that they want to game the Tokyo and London exchanges against each other.

      • DFB says:

        Arbitrage is not a game! It's serious money, almost always taken without any violation of laws from institutional investors who trade securities in multiple large blocks such as the mutual funds to which most people's retirement account are limited. It has to come from somewhere, why not the "financially responsible" schmucks?

  3. John Bloom says:

    I'm all for low latency links, more redundancy and greater independence from interfering governments. And "telemedicine," while not all that commonplace today could become more common in future (read: remote operated surgical robots). Also, 60ms is a respectable reduction for International VoIP calls. Yeah, I'd like to believe any of those reasons had anything to do with it, but I find it much more plausible (as with a lot of recent advances in high speed, low latency networking) that the HFT guys footed the bill.
    Is anyone else reminded of the part in Stross' Accelerando (and/or pick your favorite dystopian scifi) where instead of superhuman intelligences we just end up expert systems designed to buy, sell and trade humans as collateral?

    • pavel_lishin says:

      I never really followed that particular plot point, the one dealing with Economics 2.0. I enjoyed the short novella/first chapter much more than the full work. :/

  4. Nicolai says:

    The time to repair on that cable is going to be a lot higher in winter when you need serious icebreakers to get access for the cable ship.
    On the other hand without fishermen near it, it might not get broken as often as other cables!

  5. LafinJack says:

    What sleeps so deep which has the opportunity to break a cable is no mere fisherman.

  6. I want to imagine the signal repeaters every few hundred kilometers along this cable, and the routers at the endpoints that run to shore along Siberia, are powered by little nuclear reactors, in unmanned stations, perhaps filled with precious, precious copper.

    • It's odd that the global view shows the cable running mostly along the ocean floor close to Canada, yet the cable drops along the way seem to be targeted largely at Russia ... I wonder what the motivation to not just run the cable along the Russian side is...

      • Hadlock says:

        I think what you're seeing is the distortion created by the map projection they used. The rhumb line that your map shows is actually a straight shot across the north pole. Here, I've demonstrated this using google earth. You can see that the map you provided, it actually runs inside of several island groups, making it curve much closer to russia.

      • chris t says:

        I have a simpler explanation: there are two routes, and the illustrations in the article show both.

        Two of these cables, called Artic Fibre and Arctic Link, will cross the Northwest Passage which runs through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. A third cable, the Russian Optical Trans-Arctic Submarine Cable System (ROTACS), will skirt the north coast of Scandinavia and Russia.

    • jwz says:

      Previously: My Happy Place: Soviet Nuclear Lighthouse Dead Zones.

  7. Richard Perrin says:

    I'm somewhat disappointed that technology hasn't advanced to the point that cable-laying submarines are feasible. It would be so much more elegant to just cruise under the ice than bashing a passage through it.

  8. vacri says:

    Telemedice does exist, but it doesn't need -60ms latency. it's quite common to have a recording done on a patient at one site piped over to another site for reporting. Bandwidth is far more important than latency, for obvious reasons.