1 minute reading time (263 words)

Life, by an algorithm

Life, by an algorithm

Luke Rhinehart's 1971 novel ​The Dice Man​ has been updated of sorts: software developer Max Hawkins has been living his life based on events suggested by a set of algorithms.

He's done it in a pretty considered way: rather than just be completely random, he has overtly chosen to reject advice which the algos have suggested ("Kill a deer") and attempted to slim down the breadth of random possibilities (no swatikas for a tattoo).

So, he's living his life more in a state of broadly random serendipity rather than anything more extreme. And, to many, that is such a fascinating proposition that he has created a Facebook group and app so people can test and discuss random propositions themselves.

It sent a 70-something-year-old lady to a heavy metal concert. She had a great time. This one guy got sent to a church that was built by his uncle, who had died. It was the first time he'd been back to the church since his uncle's funeral, and he's told me that going back to the church was the first time that he'd really dealt with his uncle's death.

The Facebook group doubled, then quadrupled in size. And I wasn't able to continue with this manual way of selecting events. So I started to build an app to automate the process. But I had really bad timing. The day I launched the app, Facebook implemented new changes about how it let developers use its data because of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It was live for 24 hours.

Ahmed Kabil
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