Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Every man for himself versus a centralized mind for traffic management

Currently traffic on the roads is channeled/optimized individually by each car driver. Each driver uses his experience/knowledge to guess what to do in order to reach his destination faster. This approach where each man optimizes his own driving might appear to be effective; it does not produce the most efficient outcome for the system as a whole. To optimize the entire system, taking into account each of the members of the system, requires a central brain that looks at the current state of the system as a whole and computes optimizations that produce maximum net benefit overall [net, because it's possible that by disadvantaging some members, the overall output gets higher].

One question that could be raised here is that when the current state of the system is recorded and is sent for analysis to a computer, the system itself changes its state in the meantime, since its members are moving all the time. However, this concern isn't material since the time required to compute optimizations on a decent computer is so small that the changed state of the system is identical enough to the analyzed past state to an extent that the optimizations produced by the computer can be applied to the changed state as well.

P.S. Just realized that this whole thing sounds quite similar to the famous dialog of John Forbes Nash in the movie A Beautiful Mind:

"Incomplete. Incomplete, okay? Because the best result will come from everyone in the group doing what's best for himself … and the group."

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