Search This Blog

Friday, January 27, 2006

Naive People

This continues to amaze me. Whenever I see any discussion or any talkshow or read any article, we seem so fixated in talking about how things should be, how people should behave. The talk always is that people should not do this, it is wrong or its immoral or its unethical or that it is not in the interest of society at large etc etc.

To me this sounds a lot like a bunch of zebras talking about deciding how/when/where tiger's should hunt or plants discussing things like how much sunlight they should get, how much rain should be there etc... (I agree that I am exaggerating things) but what we are doing is equally absurd.

I have found it ridiculous on the part of people to think in terms of how others should/should not behave. In fact people should think in terms of how a person is likely to behave and adjust one's behavior accordingly. It is far easier and efficient to think this way.

So, how do people behave? Simple, if there is an incentive to behave in a particular way, people would behave in a manner to exploit that incentive to their advantage - even if its immoral, unethical or not in society's interest. Sure there would be some people who would not behave in that manner as for them the ethical/moral consequences far outweigh the benefits of that action/inaction - but rest assured there will be a sizeable number of people who would behave the other way.

What are the implications of this? I don't believe or assume that there is anybody out there to do me a favor at his/her expense. People are out there to make ensure that their benefits are maximised and if in doing so, some good happens to others then thats fine. People are selfish, they are out there to further their aims/objectives at the expense of others and thats what I (and others need to) assume when evaluation any action of others.

The biggest lesson for us as a society is that whenever you are designing a system, you cannot leave anything to a person's goodwill or goodfaith. You have to either ensure that there are no incentives for him to not behave in a manner expected of him and if there are you have to make the costs of doing to exceed the potential benefits. You do so by having strong penalties and a strong detection rate (which is what we severly lack).

A simple example of how system can breakdown when we don't ensure this can be had in my previous post 'The Demolitions Must Continue'

That's it for now....

No comments: