An algorithmically optimized world is no fun

Let’s be honest. Technology had made life a lot easier than it used to be and there’s some wonderful experiences that we’ve been able to have. But the digital technology tools we use today are still in their infancy and we should treat them like children not like future overlords.

... what we do know is that the point of living is not “efficiency”

Let me give you an example. We recently bought a car. 

*NOT THE ACTUAL CAR

*NOT THE ACTUAL CAR

I grew up in Oregon and was a kid who could tell you the make, model and year of any car I saw. By High School, I sadly have to admit, I considered myself a street-racer and foolishly modified a Volkswagen Jetta to its limit (apologies to so many Portlanders.) Cars and driving was a fun obsession that I put on hold when I moved to New York 15 years ago. But this year, after much debate, we decided to buy a car again. 

We didn’t buy a car to sit in traffic from point A to point B. I like to drive. That is to say: what happens while getting from place to place is not only central of the experience of driving, it’s the whole story.

Data-generated directions like the apps we use everyday present only the most direct routes. If we want to go for a long drive there’s no setting in any GPS tool for “make it interesting”. Google wants me to take highways all the way (BORING). I want to take whatever road has the most turns and my wife wants the route that has the best views. If we lived on the West Coast I could just dig into my moth-eaten memories for fun drives:

Less of this (I-5 is a straight, sleepy line)

Less of this (I-5 is a straight, sleepy line)

More of this (heart-pounding turns, majestic coastline ... twice and long.):

More of this (heart-pounding turns, majestic coastline ... twice and long.):

My point is digital technology has allowed our industry to solve numerous efficiencies of living. From getting the products we want to viewing the social updates we’re most likely to interact with software has transformed the way we do things. I’d say we’re still discovering how these technologies are changing our lives and what the long term affects might be.

But what we do know is that the point of living is not “efficiency”. The point of living is to enjoy being alive. 

We love stories, experiences and learning new skills. We’re human. If algorithms are going to plan our lives and deliver our information they need to understand one thing: it won't work without a bit of fun. The point of living is to enjoy being alive. We thrive on experiences and emotional responses. 

Now that we’ve created mapping tools and search algorithms and social automation, it’s time to start promoting the fun parts and making stories.

Cause you could be driving here.

Cause you could be driving here.