“The concept of artificial intelligence is not new. Even back in the 1970s, when I first started experimenting with computerized decision making, it had already been around for nearly twenty years (the term ‘artificial intelligence’ was first introduced in 1956 at a conference at Dartmouth College). While a lot has changed since then, the basic concepts remain the same.
To give you just one ultrasimple example of how computerized decision making works, let’s say you have two principles for heating your home: You want to turn the heat on when the temperature falls below 68 and you want to turn the heat off between midnight and 5:00 a.m. You can express the relationship between these criteria in a simple decision-making formula: If the temperature is less than 68 degrees and the time is not between 5:00 a.m. and midnight, then turn on the heat. By gathering many such formulas, it’s possible to create a decision-making system that takes in data, applies and weighs the relevant criteria, and recommends a decision.”
That’s from Principle #5: “Learn How to Make Decisions Effectively.”
For those who may not know, one of Dalio’s strokes of genius was integrating an astonishing amount of historical data with computer-driven algorithms to make investment decisions. He brilliantly combine human intelligence with machine intelligence and tells us that algorithms are SUPER powerful and that “Your children and their peers must learn to speak this language because it will soon be as important or more important than any other language.”
In Principle #4, he talks about how much he loved Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit. I want to connect those two concepts here and propose that THE most important algorithms we (and our kids) can learn are the ones that program our brains to do Optimal things on autopilot.
So… I say we have two AIs: Artificial Intelligence—which, of course, is fascinating and powerful. But let’s not forget about another AI: Ancient Intelligence. Specifically, let’s rewind the clock 500 million+ years to the origins of our basal ganglia—that part of our brain that helps put repetitive behaviors on autopilot. Let’s write algorithms to program *that* AI!
How? Precisely the same way Dalio tells us to program our heater and psychologists tell us to set “implementation intentions”: If, then…
Step 1. Decide you want to warm up the house that is your life. Identify the behaviors that keep you nice and warm and happy-toasty. Start programming your AI. For me, it looks like this:
If it’s 5:00 p.m. then it’s shut-down complete and family time. If it’s sundown, then all electronics go off. If it’s after dinner/family time then I read to Emerson. If I’ve read to Emerson then I go to bed. If I wake up in the morning then I meditate, move, and do Deep Work. If my 1,000-second timer goes off and I’m sitting and I haven’t done 25 sets of burpees yet then I stand up and bang out 11 burpees. If I feel fear then I say, “Bring it on!” and do what needs to get done. If this then that. Non-stop Optimize-AI party all day every day.
That’s the ultimate AI. As Dalio says, traditional AI programming can increase productivity by 100,000 fold. Here’s how I do that math with our Ancient Intelligence: If you can make a decision to do the Optimal thing ONCE you save the effort (and enormous amount of willpower) of deciding 1,000+ times. You make 100 wise decisions like that and you just increased your Optimizing efficiency 100,000 fold.
I say we do that. In fact, I challenge you to see if you can come up with 100 algorithms like that! And note: The #1 algorithm? One word: Areté. Here’s to honoring your Principles in pursuit of success in what matters most!