Of all the wonderful advancements digital technologies and the internet have afforded us, decision-making has suffered the consequences of information overload. In fact, too many options can be crippling, as one 2000 study conducted at Stanford shows.
Consumers given the option of tasting six jam jars were more likely to purchase one of the selection than those given twenty-four jars to sample. I think of this study whenever I open Netflix without having a specific selection. Add in the fact that I have HBO, Hulu, and Amazon Prime to tune into, and more often than not I choose to read a book rather than spend a half-hour trying to figure out what I want to watch.
Research like this reminds us that as diverse as humans can seem in practice, there’s similar hardware behind each of us. That means the software is going to be relatively similar as well. As Ray Dalio recognized in Principles, computers could do the prediction and analysis work in seconds that would take him days. The system he created at Bridgewater is what made him a billionaire.
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