When it comes to making major life choices, many people seek counsel and validation from friends, family, doctors, lawyers, mentors—anyone they trust (and, sometimes, anyone who happens to be nearby). Is this decision a good one? The right one?
Now, there's a non-human alternative to add to that list: a decision-making website called Cloverpop. In just ten minutes, MIT Technology Review reports, the website's algorithms can help you make a decision about anything from whether you should procreate to which job offer to take.
Here's MIT Technology Review on how the site, which just launched a public beta test of its services, works:
You must answer a series of questions about how experienced you are with the topic at hand, the ways in which a “yes” answer will most impact your life, and potential alternative decisions, in order to arrive at a “yes” or a “no.” You also must write a statement about how you imagine you’ll feel, having made the decision either way, in a year.
Using those yes/no answers, as well as your ranking of alternative scenarios, the site analyzes your situation and spits out a yes or no, along with a score about how confident the program is about the decision it arrived at.
As one expert pointed out to MIT Technology Review, however, the problem with this idea is that training the algorithms will take time, because the impact of many decisions—like whether to move, have kids or switch career paths—plays out over years. So it will be hard to give the program timely feedback about whether it's doing a good job at delivering answers, even though that information is crucial for improving it.
Cloverpop's creators, however, pointed out to MIT Technology Review that most people who have so far sought out the site's services weren't really starting out with a blank slate. They really just wanted the website to validate a decision they had pretty much already made.