Through a Glass, Dark Enlightenment
December 28, 2016 4:04 AM   Subscribe

The World's Largest Hedge Fund Is Building an Algorithmic Model of Its Founder's Brain - "Mr. Dalio has the highest stratum score at Bridgewater, and the firm has told employees he has one of the highest in the world. Likewise, Bridgewater's software judges Mr. Dalio the firm's most 'believable' employee in matters such as investing and leadership, which means his opinions carry more weight. Mr. Dalio is always in search of new data with which to measure his staff. He once raised the idea of using head bands to track people's brain waves, according to one former employee. The idea wasn't adopted."
At the core of the technology project now under way is a walled-off group called the Systematized Intelligence Lab, headed by David Ferrucci, who led development of the artificial-intelligence system Watson at International Business Machines Corp. before joining Bridgewater in 2013.

Though outsiders expected Mr. Ferrucci would use his talents to help find hidden signals in the financial markets, his job has focused more narrowly on analyzing the torrent of data the firm gathers about its employees. The data include ratings employees give each other throughout the work day, called "dots."
also btw...
Toward a Geometry of Thought - "The earlier post focused on breakthroughs in language translation which utilize these properties, but the more significant aspect (to me) is that we now have an automated method to extract an abstract representation of human thought from samples of ordinary language. This abstract representation will allow machines to improve dramatically in their ability to process language, dealing appropriately with semantics (i.e., meaning), which is represented geometrically."
posted by kliuless (80 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Seagate’s new 60TB SSD

it turns out you can represent a language pretty well in a mere thousand or so dimensions — in other words, a universe in which each word is designated by a list of a thousand numbers.
posted by sammyo at 4:35 AM on December 28, 2016


Seagate’s new 60TB SSD

It's a weird feeling looking at that product display card and knowing that soon enough 'one petabyte of storage across 17 drives' will sound quaint and clunky.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:38 AM on December 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Welp, at least he's doing it unselfishly to better humanity.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:52 AM on December 28, 2016 [22 favorites]


Rating your co-workers constantly is great way to generate Facebook like echo chambers, but faster. Down the rabbit hole goes the worlds largest ponzi scheme hedge fund.
posted by MikeWarot at 5:05 AM on December 28, 2016 [14 favorites]


I love reading stories about this guy, and his crazy hedge fund / social experiment. Wacky.
posted by parki at 5:13 AM on December 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I can't imagine how a workplace where everyone is required to snitch out their coworkers multiple times a day can't result in either "everything is A-OK all the time" or a CYA hellscape.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:22 AM on December 28, 2016 [19 favorites]


Bridgewater's software judges Mr. Dalio the firm's most 'believable' employee

Even the software is afraid of getting fired.
posted by grounded at 5:27 AM on December 28, 2016 [86 favorites]


"Bridgewater’s flagship fund, however, was down about 12% on the year at one point in 2016, causing alarm inside the firm. The fund has since recovered to being up 3.9% in mid-December. A lower-fee fund was up 8.1%."

My Vanguard fund was up 6.8%, has practically no fee and I don't have to take any personality or IQ tests.
posted by srboisvert at 5:28 AM on December 28, 2016 [35 favorites]


This place sounds like Hell with cubicles*.



*This assumes Hell doesn't already have cubicles.
posted by tommasz at 5:32 AM on December 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


How do hedge funds get away with it. (newyorker)

Anyhow it's been shown that your dog can pick stocks just as well as any 'professional'. It's not a magic gift and your head is in your bottom.
posted by adept256 at 5:32 AM on December 28, 2016 [13 favorites]


I can't imagine how a workplace where everyone is required to snitch out their coworkers multiple times a day can't result in either "everything is A-OK all the time" or a CYA hellscape.

Here's how that works from the point of view of those doing this (it's also known as a toxic environment): you're quickly informed that everything can't possibly be A-OK and that to say so is CYA, and everyone knows CYA is unprofessional, so come on, tell us the truth now. You don't want an annual review that says you're someone without initiative, do you? I've heard other people say that about you. And we all know that if an impression is shared by others, there's truth to it. So? Do you have any impressions about others? Any initiatives you'd like to share, or are you going to keep sitting there staring at me like the weak laze-about everyone says you are behind your back?

Back from beyond the looking-glass. There are two ways this goes: the first and most obvious is that a clique quickly forms of those willing to support those in power, because power. The second, less obvious way is that there are, of course, people who resist this shit as best they can. They get fired for cause (management tries to keep this minimal), or they quit and others are forbidden from holding going-away parties for them. People with a spine may raise a warning about the turnover rate. They are then hounded into also quitting, because if they were fired that would look bad. Gotta keep the power believable enough to look like it doesn't give a shit about resistance. The narrative is instead, "all those people weren't up to par and couldn't handle our excellence." One will note that "excellence" is generally correlated with "power" in these milieus.

Bridgewater says about one-fifth of new hires leave within the first year. The pressure is such that those who stay sometimes are seen crying in the bathrooms, said five current and former staff members.

oh hey how about that, what a surprise. (not)
posted by fraula at 5:39 AM on December 28, 2016 [62 favorites]


So the first "AI singularity" will be based on a brilliant cutthroat super-hedgefund manager with 'tude... we are so screwed
posted by sammyo at 5:51 AM on December 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Maybe the Dalai Lama was too busy.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:55 AM on December 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


So the first "AI singularity" will be based on a brilliant cutthroat super-hedgefund manager with 'tude... we are so screwed

But before then, there's liable to be some greatly hilarious mistakes.
posted by JHarris at 5:57 AM on December 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Dalio has already gone to some effort to record his personal philosophy in a more traditional treatise form.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:59 AM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't want this reality. I liked it when this kind of thing was in William Gibson novels and no one who wasn't a computer professional had heard of the internet.
posted by Frowner at 5:59 AM on December 28, 2016 [20 favorites]


So the first "AI singularity" will be based on a brilliant cutthroat super-hedgefund manager with 'tude

It read more like a bot responding with a hyperlink riddled FAQ on "How to suck up to the boss" than AI to me.
posted by srboisvert at 6:00 AM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


According to Douglas Adams this was all going to be really, really, fucking funny. D̶o̶n̶'̶t̶Panic.
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:14 AM on December 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


paywall on the wsj ... hee!
posted by infini at 6:16 AM on December 28, 2016


Wasn't this or something like it a plot on a TV show backin the mid 80's?
posted by jonmc at 6:35 AM on December 28, 2016


To get around the paywall, search for the article on google and clickthrough from there. They're not allowed to show a different site to the webcrawler than they do for the user, so in order to get indexed, they have to drop the paywall for both.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 6:43 AM on December 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


These guys sound like Scientology if L Ron Hubbard started writing in the 90s.
posted by rodlymight at 6:43 AM on December 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


*This assumes Hell doesn't already have cubicles.

Hell, obviously, is an open floor plan with no assigned desks.
posted by brennen at 6:52 AM on December 28, 2016 [31 favorites]



Bridgewater's software judges Mr. Dalio the firm's most 'believable' employee

Even the software is afraid of getting fired.


For some reason, this reminds me of Thomas Friedman's willful blindness about power imbalances in relationships. With Friedman, though, it's just about his cab driver or local bartender or whatever, with this guy it's his IT department. The software built by the team he's paying to develop said software is telling him he's super great and awesome, according to the metrics they've created for this specific task? You don't say.
posted by mhoye at 6:55 AM on December 28, 2016 [32 favorites]


I'm just going to leave this here.
posted by schmod at 7:10 AM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


posted by kliuless

Eponysterical.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 7:11 AM on December 28, 2016


God, how many bosses have I seen that thought 'I'm successful, therefore you should strive to be just like me. If I'm an extrovert, you should be an extrovert, etc.'
posted by Bee'sWing at 7:14 AM on December 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


Hell, obviously, is an open floor plan with no assigned desks.

Except in the 9th Circle, where they use "cold desking" and you are randomly assigned to "feet in" or "feet out."
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:15 AM on December 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


Hell, obviously, is an open floor plan with no assigned desks.
That might be better than a place, a place where nothing ever happens ;)

Dr. Ferrucci is from my own slacker, generation X and reading "How cool is it to imagine a machine that can combine deductive and inductive processes to develop, apply, refine and explain a fundamental economic theory?” sparked a hoot...

Oh, it's sooo cool.

Medical diagnoses is the oldest AI ambition of which I've ever read from materials dating back to the 1950s. What the NYTimes blog link above terms as "classic". Stepping away from the rigor and necessity of a clinic to develop, apply, refine and blah blah blah fundamental I'm rich muthafuckers says a lot about the guy.

As they say in California: Good luck with that.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 7:20 AM on December 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hell, obviously, is an open floor plan with no assigned desks.

In a loft space with exposed ductwork.
posted by mikemacman at 7:21 AM on December 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


The algorithm will work until it doesn't.

Or vice versa.
posted by BWA at 7:28 AM on December 28, 2016


How hard would it be to write a little macro that assigns "dots" to your list of coworkers based on a bell-curve-weighted random number generated, that you seed once on creation with a value based on how much you like said coworker, and then never even think about again? And then, if you have any coworkers you trust, you pass them the macro too?

Seems to me that the best way to combat big-data-style privacy intrusion is to populate the system with overwhelming quantities of shitty data. Our capacity to collect information has increased so much faster than our ability to evaluate information.
posted by penduluum at 7:39 AM on December 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


This place sounds like it's right out of a YA dystopian novel
Mr. Dalio frequently develops new ways to enforce his philosophy. He recently created a job category called Overseer, whose roughly dozen members are spread through the firm and act as the eyes and ears of the top leadership.
posted by noneuclidean at 7:47 AM on December 28, 2016 [25 favorites]


For some reason, this reminds me of Thomas Friedman's willful blindness about power imbalances in relationships.

“Power imbalance” is probably on a blacklist of “Marxist ideological jargon”, along with “structural”, “intersectionality” and “inequality”.
posted by acb at 7:59 AM on December 28, 2016 [13 favorites]


Is he aware of the, eh, 'loaded' implications of the job title of 'overseer' in the USA?
posted by kersplunk at 8:00 AM on December 28, 2016 [21 favorites]


I'll just chime in that I have seen about a billion iterations of this product cycle.

1. Phenomenal AI innovation based on cutting edge academic innovation. Needs real-world data set to operate.
2. Hey, we've got real world data!
3. Let's feed it some!
4. Uh-oh. :''''''(
posted by mrdaneri at 8:01 AM on December 28, 2016 [23 favorites]


The narrative is instead, "all those people weren't up to par and couldn't handle our excellence."

BOOM. I only ever worked in one truly toxic place - a research group led by someone who thought she was Steve Jobs. One guy who was clearly good at his job left because he was fed up with the bullying and chaos. What did she say when he told her he was leaving? "I guess you just aren't cut out for a career in science".
posted by kersplunk at 8:08 AM on December 28, 2016 [13 favorites]


Wait...is this...?...is there a new Deus Ex game coming out already?
posted by sexyrobot at 8:10 AM on December 28, 2016 [10 favorites]


I only ever worked in one truly toxic place - a research group led by someone who thought she was Steve Jobs.

You worked at Theranos?
posted by acb at 8:14 AM on December 28, 2016 [26 favorites]


in a more traditional treatise form

If you have great wisdom to share, make sure that some of us ignoramuses out there can actually view your wisdom filled website with our iPhones. (All I saw was a title and gray beige empty screen. Maybe that was the wisdom?)
posted by njohnson23 at 8:26 AM on December 28, 2016


He recently created a job category called Overseer, whose roughly dozen members are spread through the firm and act as the eyes and ears of the top leadership.


I guess "Commissar" didn't really fit the aesthetic they were going for.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:27 AM on December 28, 2016 [17 favorites]


What did she say when he told her he was leaving? "I guess you just aren't cut out for a career in science".

To a certain extent, this is not inaccurate. Bullying and chaos is the norm for all sorts of workplaces. And if you don't like it, you're a slacker or a commie.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:33 AM on December 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


politruk was taken, obvs.
posted by mrdaneri at 8:37 AM on December 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Anyhow it's been shown that your dog can pick stocks just as well as any 'professional'. It's not a magic gift and your head is in your bottom.--adept256

I don't know about dogs, but monkeys sure can.

These are simulated results, but I remember back in the 70s, the San Jose Mercury would have this competition every year with several top stock market analysts and an actual monkey who would throw darts at a listing of stocks.

For three years in a row, the monkey won.
posted by eye of newt at 8:45 AM on December 28, 2016 [10 favorites]


I interviewed for this group! Though I was not offered a job.

I was well aware of Bridgewater's cultlike baclground, but the members of the group, who came from outside the Bridgewater culture ecosystem, seemed like they wouldn't have the same cult-like devotion to the ways of the form as the rest of the staff. I asked the group staff about the culture, and they seemed accepting of that "this is just how it works" without trying to sell it to me as their religion.

But everything about Bridgewater is a red flag as far as working environment goes-- the pay is not especially high. But the firm is in Westport, and not close to transit, which means that once you have completely committed to the firm by moving out there, you are isolated from similar jobs and peers in your field, keeping you unaware of what anything outside the bubble is like. "Culture of openness" is actually a culture of surveillance. If you disagree with criticism, you're told that there is some part of your ego holding you back from understanding what is wrong with you.

Basically, the culture is about eliminating the self-interests of the employees to put them at service of the firm. My self interest was about working on a fascinating project and getting paid good money while building a better skill set to make myself marketable in the future. But everything they do works against that-- the pay isn't great, the purpose is to break down your ego so you can't feel you can proudly market yourself to other firms, and you will ultimately be physically isolated *even from other CT-based firms*. It's a great strategy to subject your employees to if they come straight out of college and don't know any better: you can get them for life at very good prices.

I figured it was worth the opportunity for a year or two to work on before moving on to another firm interested in doing similar work. I never got the chance to decide for myself, so I don't know what I would have done, but I saw a lot of risks involved from being involved there.
posted by bright colored sock puppet at 9:09 AM on December 28, 2016 [18 favorites]


kersplunk: "Is he aware of the, eh, 'loaded' implications of the job title of 'overseer' in the USA?"

Spawn more overlords... oh wait, wrong game.
posted by symbioid at 9:23 AM on December 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


If you disagree with criticism, you're told that there is some part of your ego holding you back from understanding what is wrong with you.

So, no kidding, they're using Maoist neurolinguistic programming techniques in service to exploiting workers? How's that for your historical ironies...
posted by saulgoodman at 9:25 AM on December 28, 2016 [19 favorites]


I'm not sure why constant self-criticism and ratting on colleagues is thought to be a productive work environment. It seems like it would take away a lot of mental and emotional energy that could be better devoted to actual working.

That said, it's a hedge fund, which means it's already a racket (active management with market timing and stock picking doesn't consistently outperform long term), so perhaps there's little real work to be done. Just closet index and distract people with something else. Like your crazy cult.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:01 AM on December 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Imagine if these people had real jobs
posted by The Whelk at 10:31 AM on December 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


There are two ways this goes: the first and most obvious is that a clique quickly forms of those willing to support those in power, because power. The second, less obvious way is that there are, of course, people who resist this shit as best they can.

Sounds like we worked at the same place once or twice.
posted by borges at 10:34 AM on December 28, 2016


It's somehow reassuring to know that a corporate person such as Bridgewater is just as likely to develop dementia as the real thing.
posted by jamjam at 10:34 AM on December 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Pick an article, any article.
posted by praemunire at 11:00 AM on December 28, 2016


When my thirteen year old self said they wanted science fiction to be real, I'm pretty sure she meant the cool stuff, not the dystopia.
posted by corb at 11:00 AM on December 28, 2016 [16 favorites]


I wonder how well the system deals with large scale environmental disasters both those we've caused and those we have no control over.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:02 AM on December 28, 2016


"Bridgewater’s flagship fund, however, was down about 12% on the year at one point in 2016, causing alarm inside the firm. The fund has since recovered to being up 3.9% in mid-December. A lower-fee fund was up 8.1%."

The innovation is that the hedge fund, as basilisk, can torture the algorithmic model of Dalio's brain until performance improves.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:39 AM on December 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


Jesus christ, do we need "consent" as a concept in employer/employee relationships.
posted by maxwelton at 11:40 AM on December 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


This sounds like just another run-of-the-mill case of engineer's disease, amped up on too much money and power.
posted by heatherlogan at 11:40 AM on December 28, 2016


Sir, the project has been successful. We can now upload your consciousness into the AI. We will gradually migrate your neurons into the simulation. We will have to strap you in as there may be some involuntary muscle spasms during the transfer. We just have to adjust the transference device snugly around your cranium. 3, 2, 1, transfer initiating.... NOW!

(Turns on microwave with disabled door safety mechanism, runs like hell with suitcase of cash)
posted by benzenedream at 11:47 AM on December 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


How hard would it be to write a little macro that assigns "dots" to your list of coworkers based on a bell-curve-weighted random number generated, that you seed once on creation with a value based on how much you like said coworker, and then never even think about again?

More dots, more dots, more dots!

Ok, stop dots.
posted by mhoye at 11:57 AM on December 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's somehow reassuring to know that a corporate person such as Bridgewater is just as likely to develop dementia as the real thing.

It would be more reassuring if corporate persons with severe cognitive deficits didn't already rule the world.
posted by brennen at 12:21 PM on December 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Great. Can't WAIT until SkyNet is tired of humanity not being a profit center.
posted by Samizdata at 12:28 PM on December 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hmmph. It's surprising to see a CEO try to automate away his own job, although I guess he gets to keep the profits so none of those pesky problems about livelihoods that the peons have to worry about.

Bridgewater’s new technology would enshrine his unorthodox management approach in a software system. It could dole out GPS-style directions for how staff members should spend every aspect of their days, down to whether an employee should make a particular phone call.

ahahahahahahahbullshit. Go ahead and waste all that money trying, though. We've created a detailed algorithmic model of the shitty brain of a hedge fund manager that can underperform the market just like a regular human! SUCCESS
posted by Existential Dread at 12:29 PM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


The underpinning to his success, Mr. Dalio often says, is his belief that markets reflect the workings of a misunderstood economic machine, and interpreting its mechanics requires a relentless and often painful dedication to getting to the truth through “thoughtful disagreement.” That’s why employees are encouraged to challenge each other repeatedly and without reservation.

Hey, I remember this, it's called journal club in grad school. It's easy to throw bricks, but also unproductive.

The fund has long anticipated booms and busts around the world, including the looming financial crisis as early as 2006, the firm has told investors.

Dear god, where are the editors? This sentence is structured to imply that this dipshit's approach has long anticipated booms and busts, but at the end of it acknowledges that is just a marketing claim.

Mr. Dalio also believes humans work like machines, a word that appears 84 times in the Principles. The problem, he has often said, is that people are prevented from achieving their best performance by emotional interference.

RAAHRARAHRAHGAHGHGHG this guy is the worst, and also this WSJ article
posted by Existential Dread at 12:35 PM on December 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


Bridgewater is a founder-run hedge fund. Every founder-run hedge fund intensely reflects the founder's idiosyncratic views about assets, asset management (the process), and asset managers (the people doing the process). In addition to a simple equation (boss's time, boss's dime = boss's rules, same as in town) the boss's vision is WHY CLIENTS ARE THERE; they care about your particular implementation of those views, but aren't interested in your variant idiosyncrasies.
posted by MattD at 12:56 PM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


) the boss's vision is WHY CLIENTS ARE THERE; they care about your particular implementation of those views, but aren't interested in your variant idiosyncrasies

Human beings making moral/ethical judgments about the world don't care what investors think or the etiquette around founder hedge funds. It is essentially irrelevant.

It is also worth adding that this essentially violates the way markets should work, because it is explicitly about eliminating the "self interest" of the employees in order to replace it with the founder's interest. It depends on maintaining an asymmetry of information combined with molding the desires of the employees to the desires of the founder, specifically for the purpose of increasing returns at their expense. Not surprisingly, this relies upon a total surveillance environment combined with indoctrination/interrogation sessions.

Regardless of whether this kind of critique is considered appropriate within hedge fund industry, it is interesting none the less to the rest of the civilized world and provides a lot of insight into what is necessary to maintain this kind of corporate vision.
posted by bright colored sock puppet at 1:18 PM on December 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


It's surprising to see a CEO try to automate away his own job, although I guess he gets to keep the profits so none of those pesky problems about livelihoods that the peons have to worry about

The highly-compensated people at hedge funds don't make their money off salaries for performing discrete tasks. Their money comes from (a) a percentage of company performance or (b) being invested in the funds themselves, which aren't necessarily open to everyone. When you hear about Jim Simons making $1.5 billion while retired, it's because his money is still sitting in the Medallion Fund (which only has, IIRC, about 250 investors). So if you can figure out how to get the investment returns without doing any work yourself, you're golden, on both fronts.

Until someone else figures out how to knock off your black box.

the boss's vision is WHY CLIENTS ARE THERE; they care about your particular implementation of those views, but aren't interested in your variant idiosyncrasies

It wasn't Steve Cohen developing many of those successful (/insider-trading-dependent) strategies at SAC. The lone-genius hedge fund founder model only scales so far. If they didn't need other traders' ideas to make money, they wouldn't keep paying them. Especially not Dalio.
posted by praemunire at 2:40 PM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Bridgewater’s new technology would enshrine his unorthodox management approach in a software system. It could dole out GPS-style directions for how staff members should spend every aspect of their days, down to whether an employee should make a particular phone call.

Why have humans to do the tasks? It's like someone is reading Manna as an instruction manual.
posted by ryoshu at 2:44 PM on December 28, 2016


Paremunire -- no disagreement on what you're saying, but we're not disagreeing. The founder-boss's idiosyncratic vision of assets, asset management and asset managers is far more global than individual PMs and their strategies and trades. Few big bosses sit on the trading desk anymore and many don't even go to the weekly / monthly investment committee on a regular basis. To a man they'd readily admit that they depend upon PMs and analysts to come up with trade ideas -- their job is to select, inspire, and risk-manage the PMs and analysts.

Steve Cohen is a great example. He had to change its name, but the fact that SAC is still around, with billions in its portfolios, most of its long-time staff still happily ensconced, him still in charge and a free man, and new client money probably starting to flow in shortly, despite SAC having no-doubt-about go-to-federal-prison insider trading, is a pretty stirring tribute to one man's vision sometimes being enough.
posted by MattD at 6:25 PM on December 28, 2016


in a more traditional treatise form

If you have great wisdom to share, make sure that some of us ignoramuses out there can actually view your wisdom filled website with our iPhones. (All I saw was a title and gray beige empty screen. Maybe that was the wisdom?)
posted by njohnson23 at 10:26 AM on December 28 [+] [!]
I am pretty sure the website linked to was not created by OP. In fact, the meta-data cites Dalio as the author. (Granted, whoever actually wrote the site almost certainly meant Dalio was the author of the text and not the website.)

If you can't view the site on your iPhone, your issue should be with whoever created the site, who should take the time to check these things out, versus someone sharing a link who should not and almost always can not verify that a link will work.

FWIW, I'm viewing the website on a Linux PC using a non-standard browser. I see an arrow pointing down, which tells me to scroll down to read. If you don't see the arrow, just try swiping down and see if you can the text shows up. If not, the site is definitely poorly developed.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:05 PM on December 28, 2016



How hard would it be to write a little macro that assigns "dots" to your list of coworkers based on a bell-curve-weighted random number generated, that you seed once on creation with a value based on how much you like said coworker, and then never even think about again? And then, if you have any coworkers you trust, you pass them the macro too?

Seems to me that the best way to combat big-data-style privacy intrusion is to populate the system with overwhelming quantities of shitty data. Our capacity to collect information has increased so much faster than our ability to evaluate information.
As soon as I saw what they called dots, I had similar thoughts. I would guess it all depends on how they weigh the dots against each other. One of the examples is getting instant feedback on participants in a meeting via dots. I would assume if your dots that are randomly assigned during the meeting, they would question your scatter-shot responses.

Perhaps, in other areas, they might think you are a genius for having dots that are contradictory or not in-line with others.

As an academic exercise, it would be incredibly pleasing to figure out the algorithms for dots, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't last a day in that environment. Either they would fire me outright for trying to hack the system or (more likely) I would say thanks, but no thanks.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:23 PM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Dilbert's Basilisk.

I suppose one gets the malevolent AI-demigod one deserves.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:28 PM on December 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


If there is an upside, when the robots come for the bankers and hedge fund managers and bosses we might actually see some changes in modern global capitalism.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:34 PM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


SAC is still around, with billions in its portfolios

point72's money is (currently) all inside money. Steve Cohen doesn't have to persuade Steve Cohen of Steven Cohen's genius.

At a certain point, the guy on top of a hedge fund stays on top because (a) he controls the capital necessary to fund the trades, which is a function of past success and good fortune, not current intelligence; and (b) in the well-known cases, he's succeeded in cultivating an image (and personal relationships) that is good for attracting outside investment. His "global investment vision" becomes of only limited relevance(*). If the fund is to continue to achieve the desired returns (which success is related to, but not the same as, making money for its owners), the contributions of those individual traders/PMs/signal theorizers are vital, not just "variant idiosyncrasies" to be dismissed as individual self-indulgence. Now, Bridgewater seems to select for employees who respond well to its particular environment. There are some such people (I can imagine myself liking some of the principles when I was younger). But I'd say they're a relatively small minority, hence the appalled reactions of most folks posting here. And, despite what Dalio undoubtedly tells himself, you really can't be sure they're the best people.

The idea that your average trader responds to any inspiration other than his paycheck did give me a good giggle, though.

(*) This is probably less true for the subset of funds like All Weather that have a very explicit theoretical commitment, but let's be real. The theoretical commitment will only last as long as the fund can make money off it, and the fund's only going to make money if it can be translated into actual trades. I can tell you what "risk parity" is; I can't build the optimum portfolio to implement it.
posted by praemunire at 10:16 PM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


There are some such people (I can imagine myself liking some of the principles when I was younger).

It's not hard to find companies willing to exploit the inexperience, idealism, and naivete of young people to lure them into these kinds of pseudo-cultish corporate cultures that come to expect complete submission of the individual self and abnegation of one's personal agency and ambitions to the cause of serving the interests of the company.

It's easy to be fooled into feeling like there's something inherently noble and virtuous about unselfishly committing yourself to serving a larger cause, a team, or a seemingly utopian vision of the world when you're young and less jaded. And if the company propaganda is effective enough, you might not even stop to care or even be experienced and self confident enough to tell that vision is really nothing more than some overconfident millionaire's or outright malignant narcissist's idiosyncratic monomania, engineer's disease, and delusional personal belief system.

There are definitely tech companies, too, that by design, seek to hire less experienced developers straight out of college because they're more compliant and less savvy about the risks out there in the labor market and less cynical about the motivations of employers. They're also more willing to sign overreaching employment contracts that might limit their future mobility and independence.

This kind of culture expects full loyalty, self sacrifice, and devotion from its employees but no reciprocal loyalty or job security. You have to be willing to give everything you've got knowing all the while you're always at risk of being thrown away at a moment's notice over the most trivial perceived failures.

I think a lot of times the owners themselves sincerely want to believe in their own utopian ideology and want to believe they really have stumbled onto the one system of thought that offers all the answers to all the problems at once if only everyone would adopt it. But as sincere as that desire is, the impulse behind it isn't altruistic, it's ego protective, making it easier to feel good about expecting your employees not only to give you honest work for an honest wage but their entire heart and soul in the bargain, too.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:25 AM on December 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


What did she say when he told her he was leaving? "I guess you just aren't cut out for a career in science".

To a certain extent, this is not inaccurate. Bullying and chaos is the norm for all sorts of workplaces. And if you don't like it, you're a slacker or a commie.


Well I worked in four different academic labs, and that was the only bad one. The boss I worked for the longest was a very gentle, friendly (also absent-minded) man with a chronic case of impostor syndrome, and he was by far the most successful - one of his papers is in the top ten most cited science papers of all time. The myth that you have to be an arsehole to be successful is spread by arseholes to justify their arseholeishness.
posted by kersplunk at 5:32 AM on December 29, 2016 [16 favorites]


Do you want to install a greed-based AI overlord? Because this is how you get a planet under the jackboots of a greed-based AI overlord.
posted by Blackanvil at 8:14 AM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


> This place sounds like Hell with cubicles*.

I have a friend who was a consultant there. He found it disturbing and toxic and cult-like. So, basically, yes.
posted by desuetude at 9:01 PM on December 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Dilbert's Basilisk.

The exit interviews will continue until morale improves.
posted by quinndexter at 11:12 PM on December 30, 2016 [1 favorite]




Working for an Algorithm Might Be an Improvement: "in the examples commonly used to illustrate the inhumanity of Taylorism, the fundamental flaw isn't automated management -- it's the employer-employee relationship... technology might help Taylorism work as intended -- if human supervisors can ensure that the algorithms are designed to provide long-term benefits for employees and employers alike."
posted by kliuless at 10:26 PM on January 17, 2017


« Older A good laugh is sunshine in the house.   |   Watching you watch Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments