Black and white portrait of Ray Dalio: Narrator and Creator of Life Principles

Principles are ways of successfully dealing with reality to get what you want out of life.

Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, cites principles as his key to success.

Life Principle

Be cautious about trusting AI without having deep understanding.

Remember that computers have no common sense. For example, a computer could easily misconstrue the fact that people wake up in the morning and then eat breakfast to indicate that waking up makes people hungry. I’d rather have fewer bets (ideally uncorrelated ones) in which I am highly confident than more bets I’m less confident in, and would consider it intolerable if I couldn’t argue the logic behind any of my decisions. A lot of people vest their blind faith in machine learning because they find it much easier than developing deep understanding. For me, that deep understanding is essential, especially for what I do.

I don’t mean to imply that these mimicking or data-mining systems, as I call them, are useless. In fact, I believe that they can be extremely useful in making decisions in which the future range and configuration of events are the same as they’ve been in the past. Given enough computing power, all possible variables can be taken into consideration. For example, by analyzing data about the moves that great chess players have made under certain circumstances, or the procedures great surgeons have used during certain types of operations, valuable programs can be created for chess playing or surgery. Back in 1997, the computer program Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov, the world’s highest-ranked chess player, using just this approach. But this approach fails in cases where the future is different from the past and you don’t know the cause-effect relationships well enough to recognize them all. Understanding these relationships as I do has saved me from making mistakes when others did, most obviously in the 2008 financial crisis. Nearly everyone else assumed that the future would be similar to the past. Focusing strictly on the logical cause-effect relationships was what allowed us to see what was really going on.

Life Principle

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