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Digital Transformation

Freedom from Choice

What happens when you automate decisions about clothing, food, and media?

By Monica Mehta

Fall 2017

We make daily decisions about everything from what coffee to buy to what media to consume (and on what device). What can we gain if we give up some of those choices? That’s what Thrive Global writer Shelby Lorman wanted to know when she automated decisions about clothing, food, and media diet for a week. She only wore black turtlenecks and jeans à la Steve Jobs, ate the same salad for lunch, and adhered to a predetermined list of what to listen to, watch, and read. The result? She discovered she had been wasting too much time on inconsequential choices—and responding to nonurgent email—and says she achieved more mental clarity and brain power to tackle important decisions. Even after the experiment ended, she continues to choose reading over social media, especially at commute time, saying, “I’ve since read more than I’ve read, truly, in years.” Even though deciding not to decide might free up more time to pursue passions, Lorman says she’s suspicious of what computer automation would do to her autonomy. “I am not too keen on letting an algorithm pick my outfits,” she says.

More at journal.thriveglobal.com/@shelby.lorman.

5

number of hours in a day that the average American consumer spends on mobile devices

Source: Flurry

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Photography by Shelby Lorman