Thursday, July 06, 2006

On Bounded Rationality and the Nature of Reality:

     In Chicagrafo's Blog, there is a statement of purpose: «My bit of help with the irrationality».

     ¿Can Chicagrafo really help?

     Well, ¡the answer is no! ... And neither can I.

     You see, this gentleman called Herbert Simon put forward a model of human behavior called "Bounded Rationality". In very crude terms it means that humans are rational only in a limited subset of their interactions with their environments, usually the one which is closely aligned with their experience, training, and formation, and as they depart from that comfort zone, they behave more emotionally / irrationally.

     Of course, some of you may say that, since no two humans share exactly the same background, if we assemble a collection of humans whose backgrounds cover most of the relevant field, we may get a rational explanation of the whole field. But this method has two flaws:

     * ¿Are you sure that these humans will be able to communicate in a rational fashion, when they have such different backgrounds? Maybe, since their backgrounds are different (as per the assumptions) there will be miscommunication and frustration thwarting the effort (try to put a psychologist to talk with an engineer, throw in two marketing majors and a lawyer to boot, and see what happens). This is one of the banes of Inter-Disciplinary teams.

     * The second problem is with reality itself. You see, I think that reality is a REALLY BIG picture, but not a painting, which is continuous in nature, nor a gigzaw puzzle, which is not continuous, but at least the parts fit each other perfectly, but a huge mosaic, like the ones you find in some churches. Some people are very close to it (we call those specialists) and can only see some individual bits and pieces; some are very far away from it (we call these generalists) and can see the big picture but have no clue on how the pieces interact, but at least the can shout to the specialists what to do (the question about if that is effective or not, is a different story); some people are very far away from it, but with a telescope that they can not rotate (McKinsey & Company call them "T-Man"), therefore, thay can see the big picture, but are experts in one (or a few) area(s); and finaly some of them are blessed by being far away, having a telescope, and being able to rotate it 360° (those may be called geniuses). Therefore, we are trying to interpret a thing were the pieces do not fit together nicely, and sometimes, our point of view does not help...

     ¿Is Chicagrafo a genius? No. He is a very intelligent man (whom I respect, but sometimes do not agree with), but no genius. I will let himself to choose his category.

     ¿Am I a genius? No, I am not ... I am a guy far away from the mosaic, with a telescope that almost does not move, and I am refocusing and pushing the sucker (for instance reading a lot, doing marketing courses while working as a SysAdmin in a telecomms company, doing an MBA) to amplify the telescope's range of movement, maybe 1° today, maybe 3° tomorrow, and I will keep refocusing and pushing the sucker until I die or get Alzheimer's......

     The point is that, at the end of the day, we will not be able to help with the irrationality ... But, if you keep an open mind and "Listen Without Prejudice" you may get some of your bases covered, and some interesting info out of the reading.




Eddie said...

Of course that you and I and the fellow posters who leave a comment can help with the irrationality. It only takes good ideas. If you tell me your ideas, and I manage to understand them, I may very well be able to decrease my irrationality.

By the way, the subject of µ-processors is very dear to me, thus I think I can help expressing a bit of my expertise in this blog.

That in some cases the communication may not be effective doesn't mean that it won't ever.

I may not be a telescope-360° genius, but I am someone capable of fully perceiving and enjoying a 3D stereogram, I can see all four birds here, while some people are, by their own admission, bounded to see just multicolor dots. There you have an example of something that everybody can do, that is, to see the dots, but only some can make sense of. If I have any extraterrestrial skill it would be that of picking up signal when most people can only perceive noise, the ability to make sense of things that are not possible for others. Since I am so steadfast, most people tell me that I am deluding myself when I say the equivalent of saying that I am seeing, not only a clear, crisp picture of an object, but a full blown three dimensional view while they barely see dots. But I am not deluding myself.

The important thing here is that one can really help: If apparently incoherent things get interpreted in a way that makes total sense to you, the irrationality drops.