Listen, you guys, Bridgewater is just a normal hedge fund.
Deep inside Bridgewater Associates LP, the world’s largest hedge-fund firm, software engineers are at work on a secret project that founder Ray Dalio has sometimes called “The Book of the Future.”
Just your run of the mill asset management firm managing $160 billion in the Connecticut woods.
The goal is technology that would automate most of the firm’s management. It would represent a culmination of Mr. Dalio’s life work to build Bridgewater into an altar to radical openness—and a place that can endure without him.
Sure, it's got some idiosyncrasies...
At Bridgewater, most meetings are recorded, employees are expected to criticize one another continually, people are subject to frequent probes of their weaknesses, and personal performance is assessed on a host of data points, all under Mr. Dalio’s gaze.
But there is nothing to see there...ferreal.
The system remains under development, and the exact details of its operations are still being debated inside the firm. One employee familiar with the project described it as “like trying to make Ray’s brain into a computer.”
Umm, what the fuck?
The “Book of the Future” software to automate management, a project Mr. Dalio has also sometimes referred to as “The One Thing,” later gained the more formal name of Principles Operating System. Abbreviated PriOS, it is an attempt to make management nearly as systematic as the firm’s investing process.
Hey, maybe L. Ron Dalio is onto something.
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.”
The Systematized Intelligence Lab is involved in several iPad applications that are part of employees’ everyday lives, among them the “Dot Collector.” It allows employees to rate each other on dozens of attributes and to hold snap polls on issues during meetings, including asking blunt questions such as whether a current conversation is a waste of time.
See, totally normal...
Those are initial uses of PriOS, the management software Mr. Dalio is developing. Future uses would include the ability to scan open positions at the company and have PriOS sort through the staff to find people with particular talents and strengths to fill jobs.
In other instances, employees at loggerheads over decisions wouldn’t have to hash out each debate out loud. They would key their opinions into PriOS, and the software would rank their perspectives, consult with Mr. Dalio’s Principles, and spit out the best way to proceed.
The ultimate vision is that PriOS would be able to predict outcomes of meetings before they are completed, and to guide people to take certain actions throughout the day. Within five years, Mr. Dalio aims for nearly three-quarters of management decisions to be determined by PriOS.
The role of many remaining humans at the firm wouldn’t be to make individual choices but to design the criteria by which the system makes decisions, intervening when something isn’t working.
Listen, just don't blame us when Ray Dalio's soul meshes with the internet and controls us all.