Ray Dalio: Automation leading to “national emergency”

What: Billionaire investor founder of investment firm Bridgewater Associates believes that the demographic and economic shake-up caused by automation should be viewed as a national emergency.

During an interview on the Artificial Intelligence (AI Podcast) with Lex Fridman podcast, Dalio said that automation is a double-edged sword. Despite the “tremendous benefits”, automation is at the root of a lot of the problems we’re having today, including polarity, disenfranchized social groups and education inequality.

He added that automation and the changes it brings about are good “for the average” but not for everybody. It causes wealth gaps and opportunity gaps, displaces people in terms of employment and should be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Why: He acknowledged, however, that the process is accelerating and intensifying and it will have an even greater impact on businesses and society going forward.

“It’s a giant thing it’ll come at us in a very big way in the future”, he said referring to AI and automation.

Even right now, anything related to mental processes “the computer can probably do better” than us, he said. One of the few exceptions, in his opinion, is the act of inventing.

About crypto: Asked about the probability of digital currencies to replace fiat, Dalio said that he believes the potential is there but it’s still a long way due to uncertainty and regulatory pressure. With regard to bitcoin, in particular, he thinks it’s too volatile of a currency with limited real-life application to be considered a threat to national currencies. A more likely rival might be a stable currency, not unlike the model proposed by Facebook.

Dalio, whose net worth is estimated at $18.7 billion, founded Bridgewater Associates in 1975. Today, it is one of the world’s largest investment funds with assets under management of more than $160 billion.