First Principles

May 26th, 2024

I heard the term first principles get thrown around multiple times this week. It wasn’t until I listened to Tim Urban break down exactly what that meant on the Lex Fridman show, that I understood what all these people had been talking about.

This shift from analogy to first principle thinking is a great way to explore uncharted territories by ignoring so called convention. Most people in business, art or whatever field they are in are generally just copying the industry leaders.

Here’s a great example I found here explaining the difference between analogy and principle first thinking.

The difference between reasoning by first principles and reasoning by analogy is like the difference between being a chef and being a cook. If the cook lost the recipe, he’d be screwed. The chef, on the other hand, understands the flavor profiles and combinations at such a fundamental level that he doesn’t even use a recipe. He has real knowledge as opposed to know-how.

From what I understand there’s usually a few trailblazers in each industry that don’t follow the rules but create them.

Usually after they find success there’s hundreds of copycats who try to emulate their approach. Yet what the copycats don’t understand is why the original approach worked in the first place.

These trailblazers broke whatever problem down into its most core principles and made their own judgment. They didn’t listen to a YouTube video that told them what was right, they ignored the consensus and formed their own conclusion.

Critical thinking in the age of AI has been on my mind for the past year. Understanding biases and what influences our decision making is something that really fascinates me.

I plan on doing more research into first principles reasoning and how to come to your own conclusions.

It’s exciting to think that the coolest inventions of the next 50 years have yet to be made.