Sunday, 5 March 2017

data knows best or don’t forget your toothbrush

Via the globe-trekking Nag on the Lake comes an interesting experiment, practical exercise in surrendering oneself to thinking machines that’ll eventually be better planners than any of us—not for virtue of being more adventurous or resourceful but because they can best navigate and game those electronic corridors of optimising deals and schedules and vacancies with far more efficiency than we can summon—in the form of a spontaneous vacation that’s fully arranged by a robot travel agency to specified parameters.
One doesn’t have to hunt for deals oneself or do the booking, and the computer keeps the travellers in suspense about their destination until in the departures lounge of their local airport. Of course, the machine works within your given budget and allows one to exclude places where one does not what to go (having recently been there) and seemed for a brand new service to not do all that bad. The pair enjoyed a nice weekend getaway in Basel and their only complaints were economic ones—the weak pound and the strong franc, but just imagine how perfectly tailored holidays could become if the robots doing the booking and bargaining knew the likes and interests of the travellers even better than they do themselves, pouring over their social media feeds, etc. What do you think? Would you be willing to invest a not insignificant sum of money to have an algorithm dictate your agenda? It strikes me a little like when you veer off-course from what one’s satnav is directing and the device loses its cool and gets panicky instantly, and if everyone started relying on computerised vacation packages, there’d be no deals left to be scooped up.