I recently read an interesting article titled How a Math Genius Hacked OkCupid to Find True Love. It tells the story of a PhD researcher who, tired of being ignored on a dating site, applied contemporary machine learning algorithms to find his optimal target groups of women and the optimal profiles to attract them. I was amused and horrified at the same time.
On the one hand, it was pure joy reading how aptly Chris used the appropriate algorithms, made sense of the various groups of women on the site, and “hacked the system” to attract them in droves. He proved to be an able data scientist and solved this data problem brilliantly.
On the other hand, I couldn’t help thinking that he would have learned much more about women if he had spent all that time outside, approaching them and talking to them. Surely he would have been rejected many times. He would have met dozens of completely incompatible girls. He would not preselect his conversation partners and end up talking to random people he’d find boring.
But he wouldn’t be coding for once.
Chris’s (and mine) domain is software and mathematics. It is only natural we try to apply what we know to most problems we encounter. But sometimes it pays to be “suboptimal”. A huge part of my life is lived in mathematical models and software code, but that’s precisely why I enjoy completely orthogonal things like swimming, discussing philosophy, learning Chinese and flirting with girls.
It is important to continually improve on your strong points. Equally important, however, is to maintain a balance of wide ranging interests. To cultivate a perspective on things. To be well rounded.
To challenge yourself and do difficult things.
And… yeah, girls find that very attractive.