My God! It's full of Nash equilibria!

by Cyan1 min read16th Aug 20092 comments

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Personal Blog

Speaking of Scott Aaronson, his latest post at Shtetl-Optimized seems worthy of some linky love.

Why do native speakers of the language you’re studying talk too fast for you to understand them?  Because otherwise, they could talk faster and still understand each other.

...

Again and again, I’ve undergone the humbling experience of first lamenting how badly something sucks, then only much later having the crucial insight that its not sucking wouldn’t have been a Nash equilibrium.  Clearly, then, I haven’t yet gotten good enough at Malthusianizing my daily life—have you?

 

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"Malthusian" is not the simplest explanation. What about Marshallian? It looks like most of these behaviors involve doing something until marginal costs reach marginal benefits. His model involves doing things because they can't be as good as possible without having negative side effects. While this gets you the right result in some cases, it means he needs a separate model for explaining positive externalities ("Why do my neighbors clean their lawns, even though they get a fraction of the total benefit of living in a neighborhood with clean lawns?")

When you don't mow your lawn, the neighbors get really upset and start calling the local board of health. I learned this the hard way.