Boredom heat-death

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Myths and legends of the market
The JC’s guide to the foundational mythology of the markets.™
Boredom heat-death.png
Boredom Heat-Death of the Universe (von Sachsen-Rampton, 1903)
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Boredom heat-death
/ˈbɔːdəm hiːt dɛθ/ (n.)

1. (Of the universe): A plausible ultimate fate for all of creation is that it is to be entirely consumed by flannel, such that the universe itself collapses into a state of irretrievable confusion entropy, and the end of days is upon us. This will not be a bang, nor even a whimper, but just a gentle settling into a state of inanimacy.

2. (Of commerce): A state in which all commercial activity has been vanquished by disclaimers, boilerplate, and flannel — arrived at by means of a series of weekly all-hands conference calls — such that confusion has approached its asymptotic, catatonic maximum and there is a state of zero free thermodynamic creative energy. Commerce is no longer sustainable and collapses into a state of complete ennui.

In financial services

There is a school of thought that certain financial institutions, who shall remain nameless, have already passed through an event horizon of tedium, are well past saving themselves, only really appear to the rest of us through the strangulated light they emit from the fierce gravity to which they have succumbed. These ghostly banks, through their overweening mass, will eventually drag the rest of the financial universe into the abyss with them — indeed, may already have done so: the Schwarzschild threshold is imperceptible, especially to those work in regulatory change programmes. You really cannot tell whether you are alive or dead.

The boredom heat death of the universe was only narrowly avoided during the implementation of the securities financing transaction regulations when a cartel of well-meaning industry associations and their respective legal working groups jointly produced a fifteen page, 5,000 word document explaining the concept of title transfer.

To this day, financial institutions around Europe have whole departments whose only function is to send SFTR disclosures to each other. Once a year, at Christmas, their email batteries fall silent and they meet atop the trenches for a game of football in No-Man’s Land.

In meaning

The event horizon — the point of no return — may well be something innocuous like a virtual webinar about the impact on LIBOR remediation of the EMIR refit, such that we may not notice it happening and, indeed, it may already have happened.

If it hasn’t, then the advent of large language models is undoubtedly accelerated the user journey in that direction. In the same way that passive index funds account for almost all the activityh in the equity market the time will come where LLMs account for all the discourse on the internet. They will, thus learn from themselves, and will, over time, and given undreamable computational power in the service of this averagarianist fever dream, will converge on a single elemental and “I’ll just leave this here” are good candidates.

See also