This story showed up on Hacker News last night:http://jspauld.com/post/35126549635/how-i-made-500k-with-machine-learning-and-hft
I have no doubt that HFT can yield results, and that there is a lot of untapped stochastic analysis left with using ML to predict those changes. That I will never question, but that seems to be what these 'Big Data' guys always want to talk about: "omg isnt it so amazing we can predict the future now (just without physics and chaos-theory level)"
In my opinion, if someone manages to rip $500k out of the stock market, and they decide to use it to retire, I am disappointed. That's spreading a message that is very non-egalitarian, and I appreciate egalitarianism.
I would be okay if someone decided to rip out $500k from the stock market to put into some kind of business venture to undermine the power of current financial elites. If we manage to yank out a lot of money from the stock market, we either destroy the life-savings of regular people's IRA's or we put the financial elites in defense mode. Isn't that when they start spreading propaganda about the economy going to shit, raise the prime interest rate, buy out smaller banks, companies, homes, and justify freezing salaries?
The success of HFT and, more important, ML to the distribution of wealth is a powerful tool. I don't want to see it wasted on just a few retirement funds.