I was going to think a bit more about this concept before writing about it. It’s the most powerful idea I’ve heard in a long time.

But I can’t wait so I’m just going to write.

This is an easy hack with long, compounding effects.

Here goes:

Over the last few years, we changed from deliberately choosing which content we consume to letting algorithms decide for us.

In its current state, AI is a giant black box. Even really good engineers basically have no clue what’s going on. They choose hyperparameters based on hearsay. They test, iterate and use what seems to work well at first glance.

This is OK (still not great) for tasks we as humans are good at because we can fairly easily check whether the algorithm does what it’s supposed to do. But for recommending content, this is a big problem.

A second problem is that ad companies such as Facebook make money by making you addicted to their feed. They literally optimise for time spent in app. They don’t care whether you waste your time or learn something useful.

I’m all for capitalism but this is a nasty side effect.

Why should we let arbitrary algorithms decide what we watch, read and listen?

We all have an “information funnel”. This is the way information reaches us.

Having a good information funnel is the number one way to get ahead in life.

Successful people have an insanely effective information funnel.

Just imagine: you could have gotten into bitcoin at the right point in time. You could have invested in Facebook at IPO time. You could have known at a really young age what’s the right way to exercise and eat to optimise for health.

I can almost guarantee that your information funnel right now is shit. It was not chosen deliberately but rather it’s an effect of random forces and a mix of companies that “growth hacked” their way to your attention.

Let’s have a look at an average person’s information funnel:

  • Instagram -> scroll through feed multiple times per day
  • Instagram -> watch all stories
  • Same for Snapchat
  • Talk to friends IRL or via messenger/snapchat/whatsapp
  • Books? probably not a lot because attention span too short
  • YouTube recommendations on homepage via algorithms
  • Twitter feed algorithm
  • Facebook feed algorithm
  • Other websites / blogs that you’re conditioned to type in the browser
  • TV?? if old school
  • News sites? Mostly noise / fearmongering
  • email + subscriptions
  • Netflix recommendations by algorithm
  • 9gag / Reddit / boredpanda and other meme sites

Luckily it’s easy to change your information funnel. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Remove noise
  • Reddit -> change your homepage to include useful subreddits like r/getdisciplined, r/financialindependence, r/fitness etc, remove defaults
  • Use news feed eradicator plugin on Chrome to block your Facebook news feed, this way you can still use Facebook groups, messenger etc but you don’t see the newsfeed all the time
  • remove all addictive apps from your phone, guideline: if it recommends content and you can’t change the algorithm, delete it. Instagram is a big one.
  • Twitter -> only follow people who give useful advice and insights in categories that interest you. For me that would be crypto, buddhism, meditation, startups, VC, tech etc
  • YouTube -> remove brainless channels, ask your friends for good recommendations
  • Don’t treat books as atomic units. pick and choose, only read what interests you, even if it’s just a chapter
  • Unsubscribe or block unwanted emails
  • Smash your TV
  • Start a weekly routine with friends and  acquaintances you can learn from. Running is a good example

TL;DR Information compounding is a strong effect. #1 goal is learning. Remove noise from your information funnel.