Wash Park or Baker? St. Mark's or Starbucks? Why ask people when you can ask the web?*
*Okay, asking actual people is probably a better idea. But this is a tech blog.
Computers. Is there anything they can't do? Each day brings us closer to the time when that answer is truly "no," and today brings us to a particularly momentous milestone: the day we no longer have to decide much of anything for ourselves.
Thanks to the robot overlords behind hunch.com, we can now get automated advice by answering a few simple questions. It combines the fun of online quizzes with the sweet, sweet release of letting others make all of your life decisions for you -- brilliant. To test it, I asked some rather pressing life questions, starting with "Should I get a bear as a pet?" After a few sensible questions, it gave me an answer of "No" with a 66 percent confidence rating -- disappointing, sure, but I have to admit, it's probably the right decision.
I followed that up with some attempts to see how well it knew my home state. Half a dozen questions yielded some solid suggestions for where in Denver I should live -- Five Points, Baker or Wash Park. I don't live in those places, but I totally would. And just two questions about my coffee preferences yielded very solid recommendations, including St. Mark's, my favorite coffeehouse.
On the other hand, the advice it offered for sights to see in Colorado kind of sucked. A bunch of gold-mining ghost towns and not a single camping destination? Huh? It all comes down to the breadth of the question and how many people have asked it and given feedback -- the more it knows about me and the area, the better decision it will make. In other words, popular questions should trigger more accurate answers -- at least I hope so, since I asked it if I should get married and it offered me a 77 percent assurance I should pop the question. Now I just need a good romantic location to do it in. Hopefully it will have a better suggestion when I ask again next week.
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