Is free will an illusion? Game theory makes us think harder about who we are.

With game theory and short circuit theory, we can predict possible traffic congestions. Both these concepts take into consideration group behavior compared to individual behavior. Additionally, it proves difficult to predict the behavior of others considering the different mindsets and mentalities. For these reasons, these two theories allow us to model the flow of traffic when new roads are introduced.

Continuing with the connections between crowd behavior and concepts of STEM. It is possible to predict such behavior with an idea known as Nash’s equilibrium. This concept comes from a field known as game theory, where the idea is that an action of a player can be used to predict the outcomes of all the other players. In physics, this concept can be found in short circuit theory, which states that electrons aim to take the path of least resistance. In other words, if there is a path where the potential difference is zero, the electrons will favor that path, leading to a short circuit. When considering crowd behavior, imagine a busy road to work that experiences traffic every day. If a second road is created that connects the same points, however, takes a different path, theoretically, the traffic shifts toward the other road. This is because each individual, assuming common thought, believes that the new road would be less congested than the previous one. As a result, if everyone takes the second road, the first road becomes empty. Nash’s equilibrium states that, for an individual, it is best for them to keep with their original strategy to “win” the game. If one person were to have kept taking the first road without traffic, it would have proved more beneficial than switching strategies.

In terms of circuitry, the first road is “short-circuited” and the current path follows the second road. If one is presented with a parallel circuit where the first path contains a resistor and the other does not, then the first path is shorted out just like the first road. Since all the electrons believe the second path provides the least resistance allowing for no voltage drop, they all shift to that path. As a result, the first path is left empty and no electrons take it.

Both Nash’s equilibrium and circuitry may prove useful to model the effects of constructing new roads on busy paths. Though logically, constructing a new road should mitigate traffic, the contrary may be true. As individuals, it becomes difficult for us to predict crowd behavior considering we don’t all think alike. For this reason, it is important for us to use models that are presented to us by nature.


Shlok Bhattacharya

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