Optimal is not Ideal

Virginia Heffernan for the NYT Magazine:

A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute.

For optimizers, all values flatten: There’s optimal at one end and the dread suboptimal at the other. This can be freeing for those who get worked up by emotional, political or moral language. In theory, through optimization, arguments can be dispassionately adjudicated and then resolved without tears. You find Inkwell, the true black-and-white Instagram filter, beautiful? Sorry: Instagram photos filtered with the purplish monochrome Willow get way more hearts than Inkwell photos. I’m just saying. I mean, it’s just data.

A witty and sobering article, pointing out our insatiable hunger for data, data, and more data. Knowing the metric for everything and the value of nothing.

Is this the future that we want to build?