• Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact

  • Merge Timing

    February 7th, 2012
    driving  [html]
    Driving down the highway you see a sign saying that your lane is closed for construction a mile ahead. Do you merge over now, or do you stay in your lane until the last minute? In the US at least, the normal thing to do is to merge promptly, and then get angry at the jerks who cut in at the last minute after zooming past the patiently waiting people who have already merged.

    We think of this as a defect/cooperate situation: you can cooperate for common gains in which you share, or you can defect and increase your gains at the expense of others. Cast this way you should cooperate, but what messes this up is that it's actually better to merge late. What looks like polite cooperative behavior is actually worse for the group.

    I think the solution here is the same as for buses: you should do the thing that has the best outcomes overall (take advantage of the emptied lane and merge late; squeeze through to the empty space at the back of the bus) and think of the misguidedly polite people as the rude ones.

    Update 2014-05-22: I've become more supportive of the general value of building and maintaining the sense that strangers in your society are basically good people. Doing the efficient thing here erodes that sense, even if it would be better if we all did it. So in a case where late merging is very rare, one where the mass of early mergers are just going to resent you for late merging instead of joining you, your main effect is eroding that societal trust.

    Comment via: google plus, facebook

    Recent posts on blogs I like:

    Fireside Friday, November 27, 2020

    Hey folks! Fireside this week. A bit of a change-up in terms of the coming attractions. I had planned to start “Textiles, How Did They Make It?” next, but I want to do a bit more reading on some of the initial stages of textile production (that is, the pr…

    via A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry November 27, 2020

    Building Depth and Window Space

    How much window space does an apartment need, relative to its area, and how does this affect building style? A fascinating post from about a year ago on Urban Kchoze makes the argument that modern North American buildings are too deep – Simon calls them o…

    via Pedestrian Observations November 27, 2020

    Thoughts you mightn't have thunk about remote meetings

    Welcome to this week's edition of "building a startup in 2020," in which all your meetings are suddenly remote, and you probably weren't prepared for it. I know I wasn't. We started a "fully remote" company back in 2019, but …

    via apenwarr November 23, 2020

    more     (via openring)


  • Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact