5 Scenarios, 2 - Risk

2. Risk Is Rewarded

As was always expected, the advancing power of computers, pushed by the demands of the market, drove the speed and intensity of financial transactions to reach astronomical levels. The raw volume of financial traffic became practically incalculable and progressively more generalised measures and weights were put in place to try and humanise the numbers and quantities being traded. But, computers could never master the aspects of risk truly necessary to inflate the markets. Given a set of choices, the computer would always chose the most logical - the safest and most profitable, whether in the long or short term. But as econohistorians have pointed out for decades, humans are not logical, and it is precisely this unpredictable riskiness that gives a trading body it's strength.

Under Old Capitalism, the consumer was forced, by the system, to work. Whether in pornography or researching for Microsoft, the consumer was forced to work in order that they produce and consume but the derivative economy does not reward acquisition. Life is provided for in food and living space but risk is rewarded. Where a successful financial officer of old might wear tailored suits and expensive watches, drive rare cars and own lofty property to show his successes, a successful risker only has the credibility of his gambles to show.

Wagers on risk-success between traders began in the late 20th century as a casual show of machismo and bravado for men and women who thrived on competition - the greater the risk, the greater the rewards. Institutions soon capitalised on this, the framework of new banking and deregulation allowed them to goad their staff into higher and higher levels of risk-taking, not for financial reward, but for status and the jealous respect of their peers.

The greatest riskers always had celebrity status within their own circles but as the onus of societal reward shifted from acquisition to risk and flux, they became Imelda Marcos' of risk - international monuments to achievement.

A) Algorithmic Horn

Beginning initially as a pun on the bull markets, traders begin to wear horns. But as biotechnology leaps forward and consumerism leaps back, it becomes a thing of status to grow horns in the shape of the risk algorithms the trader prefers to use. The size and intricacy of the patterns used in the engineering of the horns reflect the bravado of the transactions undertaken.

Riskers seek the the thrill of an expensive gamble, the chemicals activated in the brain feed the engineered mutations that grow the horns and without regular 'hits', the horns begin to wither and shrink.