Greedy Behaviour

Proposition: Any decision made by an entity that is capable of rational as well as emotional thought (humans, e.g.) is a “greedy” decision.

Mathematically, a greedy decision is the one when, at a given stage, one makes the locally optimum choice with the hope of finding the global optimum. We can make whatever choice seems best at the moment and then make choices according to the situations that arise later. The choice made by the rational entity may depend on choices made so far but not on future choices.

The debate last night was about whether some of the decisions made in the world history, Iraq war for example, could have been some other decision for the betterment of the future world. Of course, some other decision, e.g., not invading Iraq would be a better decision, but we can only say that, with some degree of certainty, because right now we have more information (solution space of the problem) available, and we can carry out a posterior analysis of the situation. Anyone who has a little background in Game Theory (prisoner’s dilemma) and Probability Theory can see the difference between a posterior analysis and a priori analysis. In other words, “the hindsight is always better than the foresight.” Whether it was a good idea to not have the separate state of Israel has profound implications on the present problems we face in the middle east, but we could not say at that time whether any other decision would not have as profoundly troublesome outcomes. We cannot say it even now. Any other decision taken (let us say the one of not having a separate state founded on the biblical emotions) would also have been greedy.

Picking one of the outcomes of ‘whether one should get married’ is also a greedy decision, whatever way you look at it. Many of us contemplate on the future (married life) with the thought that (s)he getting married will cause problems like stability, possessive feelings and some others, for which I cannot take liberty to disclose them here. Although in that case, one is considering the future outcomes; still the decision of not getting married is a greedy choice because the outcome of “having problems in future” comes forth only because of what one has already observed, not what one will observe in the future.

Obviously such debates have no end. You can give me thousand arguments in favor of altruist decision, and I can give ten thousand in favor of a selfish one, so consider this as just a passing thought — the confession of a demented mind. In the end it just boils down to the questions, “What is “good”? Is greedy behaviour bad? And, why should one always stick to the good?”


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