dot collector

Ray Dalio’s TED talk has gives a fascinating peek inside Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge funds in the world. After showing video of himself being an arrogant bastard early in his career which led to his ruin, he put his newfound humility to work in his company’s Dot Collector, to help himself, and others, continaully ask themselves “how do I know my opinion is right?”

To attempt to remove opinions in the form of bias in reporting is a fool’s errand - facts aren’t facts, they’re unescapably framed by the other facts around them, by the presentation, so a naive reporter can be made to report anything, never mind a lazy report who merely regurgitates press releases.

What’s so alluring about the program shown in the talk is that it’s able to propose moving past the simplistic one-person-one-vote stricture, and places unequal value for a vote, depending on the voter. There are all sorts of ways that could go wrong, but keeping to the grading system for hedge funds - are they making money? - then Bridgewater is doing very well indeed.

Would this work on a broader audience? Bridgewater has the benefit of indoctrinating its employees - by his own admission, 25-30% of employees just don’t make it, and those that do still take ~18 months to get used to that level of honesty. This isn’t the radical honesty tell-your-partner-they’re-fat for no good reason kind of hurtful “I’m just being honest” radicalism either. Mr. Dalio is careful to point out that this is “only for the important stuff”.

The brief glimpse into the dot collector in the form of a single screenshot in the presentation shows there’s a lot that Bridgewater must train employees to be thinking along in order of this to be useful. There are broad descriptors like “integrity” or “wise” that I can’t see working out in a metatwitter, free-for-all environment where no one can be trusted to read anything.

In a world where Twitter is a cesspool of death threats, and Reddit is only better than 4chan if you willfully put on blinders, could this sort of metamoderation, pioneered by Slashdot, and all but forgotten to the broader public decades later, maybe this time around more advanced rating algorithms could fight spam, as well as moderate to form a more sincere community, and mitigate the baser human emotions of greed, envy and jealousy.