Hunch from Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake is a “decision engine”. After asking you some 20 questions to get to know you, you get to pick questions to ask it. It then asks you a series of multiple choice questions to determine your preferences before giving you recommendations. Examples of a top-level question (called topic on Hunch) are “Where should I go on vacation?” and “What should I plant in my garden?”
The interesting thing is that all these topics are created by people — so in a sense it is the ultimate Web 2.0 search engine. I found that it worked quite well in recommending designer suits for my wife and restaurants near my area. Where the system breaks down is that it doesn’t take into account the fact that certain criteria are more important than others. For instance, I played the topic “Should I get an iPhone or a Palm Pre?” One of the questions was if I wanted to be able to multitask. If this need completely outweighs all other considerations, then the answer is dead simple, and no other questions are needed. But there is no facility for that. So in its current form, it works best for “fuzzy” or subjective decision-making.
This puts it in the same market as Aardvark, which lets you ask real people subjective questions on IM, the difference being that with Hunch, the answers are pre-canned, and it is supposed to learn about your preferences as it goes.