Choicing.


Multiple Choice will be the new UX. From A/B testing to A/B/C choosing. It seems probable that UX interfaces will evolve to give you three choices.

Most days you have a familiar routine. If you question this, try brushing your teeth with your other hand. Some evidence — still under debate — suggests we have a set amount of mental energy and willpower to draw from, and each deliberation and decision we must make can use up this energy. And this can cause decision fatigue. It’s allegedly why, after having to wrestle with a hard mental problem, you are more likely to pick the candy over the healthy snack. Our brains could be glucose hunting, for more energy, but we’ll avoid the debate for now. This is why certain leaders like Obama and Zuckerberg wear the same thing every day: it’s one less thing to decide on.

Routine things can be automated. If this, then that. Or: at this time, do this thing. At 07:00, ring my alarm to wake me up. If it’s 68 degrees inside, turn on the heat until it is 70 degrees. Simple routines can be combined into simple sequences to make more complex routines. At 07:00, ring my alarm to wake me up, brighten the lights, start the coffee machine, estimate my distance to work and my commute in minutes and confirm an Uber is en route 5 minutes before I need to leave for work.

The excitement around the Internet of Things is an excitement around virtual reconfigurable Rube Goldberg machines, connected, sequenced and concatenated to remove routine steps from our lives. We add unconscious connected things so we can subtract conscious decisions we otherwise make. The more we connect our things to each other, the more we (can) disconnect from them. The closer our things are to digitizing our desires, the further we can physically get from them. I do not physically touch my alarm, my thermostat, my door, my ignition or my stereo.

Of course you don’t always do exactly the same thing every day, but there are patterns. And from those patterns probabilities can be derived of what you might do. The more sensors, tracking, behavior and history you self-reveal, in other words, the more data you offer up of what you did, and the easier it is to see a pattern of what you might do.

Making predictions is almost always foolhardy, but a seemingly very probable next step — whether you name it or not with a buzzword like artificial intelligence, UX, bayesian inference, big data, deep learning, machine learning — is taking things you do and presenting you with a routine or a multiple choice. Forget A/B testing. This will be A/B/C choosing.

In a world of growing abundance, of what to eat, what to read, what to see, where to go, who to date, what to wear, what to listen to, the scarce thing is the ability to choose. We are paralyzed by choice, a growing abundance of nearly infinite channels, songs, clothing, food varieties. If all the hotel options weren’t enough, now you may stay at nearly anyone’s home. What is scarce and in demand is curation. More options means more freedom, but too much freedom means chaos. So we scream out: “Narrow my choices, help me choose the best one.” Your mobile OS especially will increasingly offer you a primary choice with two alternatives. Pick a route. Pick a flight. Pick a food. Pick a time. Pick a place to meet. Pick an entertainment option. It will aggregate choices and statistically select the best.

We are seeing a wave of entrepreneurs starting businesses around a hybrid of hardware and software that offers people and businesses two options: (1) full automation of routines with near certainty and (2) multiple-choice with high-probability.