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Sudoku, Work, And Pleasure

I just stumbled across this excellent post by Seth Weidman, a Data Scientist at Sentilink.

In it, Seth compares solving repetitive work tasks with solving Sudoku puzzles. Arguably repetitive work tasks (and Sudoku) can be solved quickly and automatically by applying computers, data science, automation, machine learning and AI (it's fun to call similar things different names).

Repetitive work tasks, soon-to-be-solved through the magic of technology include ad variant generation, filtering profanity from user generated content, and auto-dialling phone calls.

We look to technology to eliminate these tasks because they're not productive. Or fun.

It's easier than ever to train technology to give humans a helping hand. There aren't that many naughty words in our vocabulary. GPT-3 relies on crawled web content to discover new variants - web content is more plentiful than ever. Scrolling through phone numbers isn't rocket science.

These days, solving Sudoku is predictable. And easy. Computers solve puzzles faster than humans.

Yet, we recoil at the idea of letting technology over-solve repetitive tasks we enjoy. Like Sudoku.

I disagree with Seth when he says "I think it is actually a problem that people view Sudoku and things like it as enjoyable activities." Mental stimulation is good. If Sudoku grants you that stimulation, and helps keep your brain active, that's a good thing. Focusing can be relaxing.

I definitely agree with this, though:

"Always look for ways to automate the repetitive, organizational tasks at work and in your life. Do this, and use the time you save to cultivate your creative, innovative, more human side — the side you will ultimately need to do your most valuable and most rewarding work."

Creation moves you forward, and creating time for creation includes eliminating unhealthy habits from your life. Definitely prioritise anything that eats your time, and makes you feel worse for it.

Sudoku isn't an unhealthy habit. Puzzles are healthy tasks. We need more, not less, of them.

P.S. This is where I play Sudoku online. Give it a try.