I, The Absolute

Archive for May 19th, 2005

Life and two of its problems

Posted by itheabsolute on May 19, 2005

Uncertainty in life emerges from this single source – our ignorance of what the other person’s intentions are (of action, reaction, emotion, etc). The entire concept of game theory is built on this. For instance, tomorrow we have our student body elections. There are four candidates. Only one is going to win. If the other three knew who the students are going to vote for, then they would not have contested. But how do they know of the intentions of others. But is there anyway we can know of other person’s intentions. Perhaps not very easy. Through statistics or stratagem we can know the other person’s intentions. But even more effective can we be, when we try to influence other person’s intentions themselves, which again is not easy. Not sure of the reasons, but out of the five candidates who initially wanted to contest, one dropped out. Did he come to know of the students intentions or were the other competitors able to influence his intentions. Game theory is a very complex subject which inter-relates math and psychology. By the understanding of this theory, we can expect to be able to anticipate other people. Its utility is almost everywhere. Tomorrow’s economic class at ISB covers game theory in the context of Oligopoly markets.

Communication, the second problem. I firmly believe that communication is communicator’s responsibility and not the listeners’. The communicator has to fine tune his language till such time as he is able to manage conveying the message being wanted to convey. Why is communication a problem? The mind can imagine many more thoughts and graphics than can be expressed. More importantly, unlike as it is commonly believed, the information in the brain is not stored in well-set folders which can be retrieved purely by an algorithm. The brain stores different pieces of information on a particular subject at different places. For instance, elephant. When I think of an elephant, the brain retrieves the shape, size and the color of this animal from various parts of it. Retrieving a word to describe the animal in the shape of an elephant is a process by itself. When simple information retrieval is so complex, it is not easy to be able to communicate thoughts and ideas easily and in simple language. But in terms of utilitarian value, communication stands at the top of the value chain. Life can be really different and better if people were able to communicate easily and clearly.

1. On the topic of uncertainty/risk, ‘Against the Gods’ by Bernstein is a must read.
2. The person being referred can be one single individual, or a group of individuals, or any organization that can have a system of thinking.

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