The Original OkCupid Algorithm Is Up For Sale


Online art platform Artsy are hosting the world’s first auction of algorithms and code.

The event wants to “celebrate the art of pure code and designate algorithms as an exciting new category for collectors”.

And part of this auction is OkCupid’s groundbreaking algorithm, created by founders Chris Coyne, Max Krohn, Sam Yagan and Christian Rudder.

The piece, which currently has a bid of $1,700, is two framed original drawings created by the four co-founders, based on the earliest version of the algorithm.

The listing says: “People around the globe have discovered each other, found happiness and companionship, and started families with the help of the OkCupid Compatibility Calculation.”

The algorithm is still being used, and remains largely unchanged since it was written in 2003.

In a statement about the birth of the OkCupid algorithm, the founders said:

“Before doing any math at all, OkCupid played a mental exercise. It imagined a trusted friend claiming they had the perfect match for you.  Would you even trust that person, your closest friend? Probably not – you’d start asking questions.  What questions would you ask about this perfect match?  How much would you care about each answer, and what would you hope for? If you could play this game long enough, asking and answering questions through your friend, you could form your own, custom opinion, and disregard your expert friend entirely.

This was OkCupid’s goal: to disregard the expert.  Instead, it simulated a personalized game of Q&A between all pairs of people in the world, all at the same time.”

Bidding for the artwork is currently open here, and will end on the 27th March at an event at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York.

The entire algorithm auction has seven lots, which feature both archival algorithms –  “important moments in the history of the discipline” – and living algorithms.

The Algorithm Auction was created by Ruse Laboratories and all proceeds will benefit the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.