What For?

 

What is this for?

We rely on search engines, smart devices, and digital assistances everyday. Yet despite advances in machine learning, the algorithms simply don't have the correct answer for every question. In fact, the most important questions still require the human touch. So while we wait for the impending rapture of the Singularity, what are we feeble mortals to do?

Enter Ask A Human: the backwards, inefficient, low-tech, super manual solution.

  • Looking for interesting an interesting movie recommendation? Ask A Human.
  • Want advice on asking out the cute barista who always smiles at you? Ask A Human.
  • Worried that a thing your uncle said at dinner was pretty racist? Ask A Human.
  • Have a tech support problem you just cannot figure out for the life of you? Google it. ... Then if you're still stuck after searching, ok sure, Ask A Human, I guess.

While enjoying the many benefits of our current Information Age, we has come to believe that we're losing a basic element of the human experience by advocating all decision-making to algorithms. For example: in the past, the video store clerk could recommend a random movie to you—something you've never heard of that you might love, might be challenged by, or simply just find interesting. Today, Netflix optimizes its recommendations to keep us engaged as long as possible, giving you more of the same kind of stuff you've already watched. As a pure recommendation system, it is not working for us, but rather working us.

Of course movie recommendations are just one example. Product ratings and reviews on Amazon have also been gamed by devious online salesmen. Twitter has a massive problem of bot users spreading propaganda and sabotaging conversations. Oh yeah, and Facebook has literally been used to undermine our democracy. So how can we rely on the algorithms to solve our problems?

We can't. Or at least, we probably shouldn't.

So if you've got a question that's too subjective for a search engine to help with, Ask A Human instead.