Breaking Through the Noise of Our 35,000 Daily Decisions


Aaron Shapiro, CEO of Huge, suffers from decision exhaustion. He encountered it in a recent attempt to buy his son the board game Monopoly, revealing there were 2,767 different ways he could buy it – a mind-boggling array of different versions, retailers and prices. In fact, with an approximate 35,000 daily decisions we all make, he suggests we are all affected by decision exhaustion.

A “Huge” Problem for Huge To Solve

It’s this problem his company, Huge, aims to combat. The benchmark for user experience is changing, Aaron says. Moving beyond ease of use, UX is now looking to make choices for us, reducing the multitude of decisions we have to make and freeing up our energy for things that matter.

He goes on to describe the coffee shop at Huge, where GPS sensors in employees’ cars send a signal to the barista to prepare their regular order as soon as they pull into a parking space. This example of leading by doing, Aaron says, is turning products into services.


Requirements for Effective Anticipatory Design

Shapiro states there are three core requirements for anticipatory design to be a force for good. First, he says, it needs to be closely connected to real needs. Customers need to choose the decisions they wish to automate. Second, systems need to give users proper feedback so that they know the decision has been made. If not, Aaron says, we’re at risk of becoming overrun with the effects of our automated decisions. Finally, automated decisions must be able to do no harm. This means we need to carefully decide which decisions to outsource to anticipatory design. This point was made in July of this year in Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking’s letter warning of killer robots, if decision-making was extended to autonomous robots with firearms.

We Need To Trust The Data Around Us

Aaron hammered home the point that trust was key in anticipatory design. For it to work, he said, there’s an awful lot of data being collected. Users need to trust that the collection and use of this data is making lives better by removing decisions one at a time. Judging by the way privacy is currently going, the barriers to anticipatory design look lowered. However, there’s still likely to be a backlash as more and more data is incorporated into decision-making systems.

A final question raised a laugh in the room: “Aaron, are we likely to see a hipster movement where people only buy from coffee shops where they can talk to the barista?”

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