Organise your life by thinking like a computer

Computational cognitive scientist says his theory can help us make best possible choices

Tom Griffiths talks about what computer scientists call the explore/exploit trade-off

Tom Griffiths talks about what computer scientists call the explore/exploit trade-off

 

I’m not boring, I’m optimal. This is what computational cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths would say about my decision to eat the same thing at the same restaurant every time I dine out. In his TED talk on how humans can make better decisions by thinking like a computer, Griffiths explains that we can apply computer science to everyday life to make the best possible choices.

Griffiths talks about what computer scientists call the explore/exploit trade-off: take a risk and seek out new information or use existing information to make a choice. Do we try something new on the menu and risk having a horrible dinner, or play it safe and eat what we already know we like?

It depends on the situation, he explains: if you’re are in a city for a short stay it’s better to exploit existing information. Exploring only has a pay-off if you’re there for longer and will use that information to make better dining choices in the future.

Similarly, computer science can help you optimise your wardrobe. Instead of Marie Kondo-ing your sock drawer ask yourself: when is the last time I wore these? As with computer memory, the last-in last-out principle will nudge you to ditch those items you haven’t worn in years even if you think they bring joy.

https://www.ted.com/talks/tom_griffiths_3_ways_to_make_better_decisions_by_thinking_like_a_computer