Google has already developed self-driving cars which Larry Page foreshadowed to in his commencement speech that he gave in 2009 to The University of Michigan.
Many things that people labor hard to do now, like cooking, cleaning, and driving will require much less human time in the future. That is, if we “have a healthy disregard for the impossible” and actually build new solutions.
Is it possible that Larry Page was foreshadowing secret projects that Google is working on?
Google has already developed self-driving cars which he foreshadowed to, so it may only be a matter of time before Google develops more crazy sci-fi inventions. I for one am looking forward to appliances that can autonomously cook my food and clean my dishes.
The Singularity is the technological creation of smarter-than–human intelligence. I present something that is akin to this theory though on a much smaller scale: the recommendularity.
The Recommendularity is the technological creation of better-than-human intuition recommendations. By this, I mean that an advanced recommendation algorithm with sufficient data will be able to predict how a person will like something better than the person himself or herself.
In recent years the internet has seen a proliferation of recommendation engine based products:
I greatly enjoy using each of these products along with millions of others. And the best thing is: the more that you use them the better they get.
Recently, something crazy happened. When it comes to movie recommendations, I now trust netflix more than my own intuition. The process has been slow and gradual. Overtime I have fed more film ratings into the system–now over 1,000. Also the netflix algorithm has been constantly improving during the same period of time.
Netflix, realizing the importance of the accuracy of their recommendations hosted a million dollar prize competition for who could improve their recommendation algorithm the most. Beyond this being a damn good publicity stunt and way to get more than their money’s worth of labor, this is just a hint to what may be in store.
As recommendation technologies improve and these technologies begin to have access to more and more data about us, the recommendations that they will be able to make will only improve.
It is too early to predict the nature and shape of this improvement curve. On the top end it could follow an exponential improvement curve like Moore’s Law. On the opposite end, there could be a natural limitation to how good recommendation engines can get leading improvement to reach a screeching halt.
Even if there are limitations to how good the recommendation engines get, there is still a ton of room for growth in the amount of information that can be fed into a recommendation engine leading to great improvement in the results.
(This is where the SciFi part begins)
Where could this lead given enough time? (Hopefully, in our lifetimes)
Recommendation engines will be better than humans at making nearly any decision. People will rely on the personalized recommendations to make more and more decisions in their lives–anything from where to eat lunch, to where to go to college. Eventually even the the most important decisions in life could be left to an algorithm.
Ultimately, choice will remain with the individual but as the computer recommendations get better and better more and more weight will be placed upon a machines recommendation.
The recommendularity represents the ultimate discovery tool. It will help ensure that everyone gets everything out of the world that is best for them according to processing the preferences of people with similar interests.
I just read Tim Ferriss’ new blog post about creating your own Real-World MBA. Basically Tim, took the $120k business school would have cost and put the money into a micro angel investing fund, the “Tim Ferriss Fund”. His primary objective was to learn from the experience and planned for the whole thing to be a sunk cost. I thought of an idea for those who don’t have $120,000 sitting around…
I was thinking it would be pretty cool if there was a fantasy version of angel investing just like there is for football and the stock market. Aspiring entrepreneurs and angel investors could try their hands at investing in a no risk manner. Certain fantasy investors who perform well might even be able to influence actual angel investors and VCs. A large part of the experience of angel investing couldn’t be recreated but at least some of it could and I think a lot of people could learn through the process.
What do you think of the idea? How could it be improved?
PS: It has been a while since I have blogged and I am not sure how often I will blog in the near future. Hopefully I will feel inspired often.
* FYI, Tim wrote the 4 Hour Workweek and coined the term “lifestyle design” and discusses the benefits of optimization and outsourcing in business.