Friday, December 2, 2016

How should groups make decisions?

I take attendance by having the students answer a question. Today's lecture was on Arrow's Impossibility Theorem so I quite reasonably asked:

How should groups make decisions?

I framed the question as a group deciding where to go for dinner, given the individual ranked preferences of each person over all the dinner options. So one student, confronted with impossibility, wrote, "just starve, we're going to die anyways. ^_^". Another summarized national exhaustion with "I don't like decisions" and yet another echoed the first with "why bother, we will all die anyways".

Others took a more whimsical approach:
  • anarchy
  • define a "mom"  friend, listen to them
  • attendance sheet surveys
  • attendance sheet popular vote
  • separation of power
  • choose 50 US residents at random (with replacement), repeat sample 100,000 times, choose most popular winner
  • a long and indecisive debate
  • only consult those with the loudest voices
  • not first past the post
  • dictatorship
  • elect a dictator
  • math
  • select the most privileged person, ask them
  • compromise
  • hand raising
  • someone should make an impassioned speech
  • oracles
  • trial by combat
  • long discussions
  • flip n coins
  • throw questions into the void and wait
  • Quaker Process (Organized Consensus)
  • no groups; return to hunter gatherer society
  • debate
  • pick the best one
  • rolling dice
  • compromise
  • capitalism!!
  • by assuming I'm always right
  • alphabetically

A subset of students were excited by the idea of a dictatorship, but wanted to further specify which dictator in particular:
  • politburo with Josif as head
  • establish [student in class] as dictator
  • Option 1: oligarchy consisting of Ina Garten, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Amanda Freitag
    Option 2: The Purge

In the margins of the attendance sheet, students sketched political signs and placards and then later students annotated them (by adjusting the name) or voted (by writing "+1" nearby).

I don't know what a "complementary probabilistic majority" is, but it sounds neat. Gold star for piquing professorial curiosity.

By popular vote, "compromise" was the only method which received more than one vote. But several other votes were similar (the above, two voting to "die anyways", and several picking debate/discussion).

This post's theme word is consonance (n), "agreement or accord" or "a combination of sounds pleasing to the ear" or "the repetition of consonant sounds, especially at the ends of words, such as st in the phrase first and last." Consonance and assonance together underlie many tongue-twisters.

1 comment:

masha51 said...

I think the following suggestions all point to the same solution, therefore the answer is clear.

- define a "mom" friend, listen to them
- only consult those with the loudest voices
- dictatorship
- elect a dictator
- oracles
- pick the best one
- by assuming I'm always right

Always happy to help,