Posts Tagged ‘game theory’

A beautiful mind


I drive to work every day. I usually drop the kids right in front of school and go to my workplace, being early enough to avoid the peak traffic hours. But even with so “few” traffic, some of the drivers piss me off.

This morning, I made two blocks from my home when a driver passed me by the left, violating the double yellow line in the street. I thought ‘she was in a hurry’, so it’s “almost” OK. But two blocks away she was there, stopped in the middle of the street, trying to turn to the left, without the turning signal blinking, and made me stop suddenly, and that stop made me miss a traffic sign ahead, which is synchronized with a railroad at-level crossing. It ended up with me and my kids waiting almost 5 “clock minutes” (not a perception, but real ones) at that traffic light (besides the short but loud of the kids because the sudden stop), just because that lady violated the double yellow line. It pissed me off.

Have you seen the movie A beautiful mind? If you are manager of something, or even if you just “live” in a society (I presume all of you), you should give it a try.

There is a moment in the movie that is key to fund some of my thoughts today. It is at the bar, when Nash realizes that if all the group of males give up trying to get the “big prize” (the blond girl), all the group would have a better ending position (all of them can get a “second prize” girl), but if only one of them tries to get the blond, there is a big chance that the group, as a whole, will be worse.

In a more simple example, suppose there is a possibility to choose between a gift that worth about $1000 or another one that worth $400. There is no doubt you will choose the $1000. But what if the rules are different? Now you are a member of a group of 4 person; there is one gift of $1000 OR four gifts of $400, and everyone must choose individually. If any one chooses the $1000 gift, then there will be three people with nothing. The better result for the group is that all of the members choose the $400 gift, with the group as a whole obtaining $1600. If one of them chooses the $1000, that person will be significantly better than the rest of the group, but the rest (and the group as a whole) will be a lot worse.

The lady this morning choosed to get better than anyone else, probably gaining 30 seconds of time, but some others (including myself), lost almost ten times what she gained. She very probably doesn’t know me, so she wouldn’t see me as part of her “group”. This means that my loss worth nothing to her. But we are part of a society, and this little everyday acts are what differentiate a society that grows from the others: the respect for the others is more than a civilized act, is economically positive for the society as a whole. And the implications inside a big company are of bigger and more direct impact that my examples. Just think about it.

See you next time.

Diego :D

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