Internet algorithms have done lots of wonderful things but can they help you live your life?
In the past, algorithms helped you find better encyclopedia answers to questions, but that is very 1990s. Google is not a search engine company now, they are an ad company that has a search engine front-end and their searches end up at Wikipedia or About.com so you're better off just going directly to those.
Modern algorithms are instead recommendation engines tailored to you.
You've seen them everywhere; when you go to Netflix and watch "Archer" and like it, their algorithm will recommend "The League", because you are clearly a 14-year-old boy, like me. But then when you mix it up with "The Right Stuff" its algorithm adjusts its recommendations with this new data. It gradually tries to hone in on anticipating what you might like. Pandora does the same thing, as do lots of others.
What about living your life like an algorithm? Garth Sundem showed us how to use math to make our important decisions in Geek Logic but that still required a little bit of input - low tech, to today's youth - so Molly McHugh at Digital Trends went one better and abdicated her whole life to algorithms for 24 hours. First, check out Garth doing what many geeks think is impossible; optimizing their chances of meeting a girl:
How did it go for McHugh? Not bad, though it might seem tedious to a lot of us. I have long believed that women have some sort of undiscovered genetic switch that gives them the patience of Job and this proves it - maybe an app could pick my workout, like setting an MP3 player to shuffle it's fun to mix it up at times - but an app to choose breakfast is too much. She is at least sensible about it, writing "I don’t hate myself enough to eat cilantro."
Really, the whole article is hilarious and so you should read it. She wisely did not take the clothing choices the Internet engine offered. At least they didn't encourage an Emo haircut.
She even finds an app which is for the people like me, who lack the genetic switch that would give them the patience to find apps to help them decide whether or not to go for walk - Shouldidoit.com, a 'yes or no' Magic 8 ball-type app which will just give you a 'yes' or 'no' answer and save you a lot of time.
I let algorithms tell me what to do for a day, and this is what happened By Molly McHugh Digital Trends
Weekend Science: Let A Mathematical Magic 8-Ball Run Your Life
By Hank Campbell | October 4th 2013 04:30 AM | Print | E-mail