Friday, February 22, 2008

I hate advertising.

Truly sucks balls. Just for the record.

What would happen if we banned all ads though? Interestingly one realistic scenario is a win-win situation for everyone:

"Advertising is sometimes cited as a real life example of the prisoner’s dilemma. When cigarette advertising was legal in the United States, competing cigarette manufacturers had to decide how much money to spend on advertising. The effectiveness of Firm A’s advertising was partially determined by the advertising conducted by Firm B. Likewise, the profit derived from advertising for Firm B is affected by the advertising conducted by Firm A. If both Firm A and Firm B chose to advertise during a given period the advertising cancels out, receipts remain constant, and expenses increase due to the cost of advertising. Both firms would benefit from a reduction in advertising. However, should Firm B choose not to advertise, Firm A could benefit greatly by advertising. Nevertheless, the optimal amount of advertising by one firm depends on how much advertising the other undertakes. As the best strategy is dependent on what the other firm chooses there is no dominant strategy and this is not a prisoner's dilemma. The outcome is similar, though, in that both firms would be better off were they to advertise less than in the equilibrium. Sometimes cooperative behaviors do emerge in business situations. For instance, cigarette manufacturers endorsed the creation of laws banning cigarette advertising, understanding that this would reduce costs and increase profits across the industry. This analysis is likely to be pertinent in many other business situations involving advertising."


Evolutionary successful strategies like 'tit for tat' (reciprocal altruism) are based on cooperation rather than defection (although defection or respectively punishment is important too to avoid disproportional exploitation). There's only one flaw: if there happens a one-time error, the tit for tat leads to an endless spiral of death. If one participant defects by accident, the opponent will defect too, which in the cycle leads to defection of the first participant again and so on. So there should be a small probability that one of them occasionally forgives a defection to permit cooperation again (like live and let live). For this to work and function stable it demands a complex psychology in each participant, implying empathy, guilt, trust and interaction to name a few. Its interesting enough that this does not work with simple systems - which human beings are fortunately not, however. In the cigarettes example above both opponents are forced to act in an irrational way, and hence they are better off. So there appears to be a need for tactical and strategical irrationlism sometimes (where terrorism is also referred to as strategical irrationalism though, ultimately culminating in a suicide-attack, the most irrational act of an individual - but a rational, allegedly strategical perspective for the ones who made them do that. To maintain an evolutionary equilibrium it in fact objectively demands moralistic aggression. Nowadays terrorism seems to be the ultimate 'defectional' and punishing behavior, to enforce one's moralistic concept. Leading into the stable spiral of death due to the asymmetric balance of power, as opposed to e.g. the cold war conflict).
But what makes me better human after all, irrationality or rationality? I guess neither. In the end its the ability to realize, to gain knowledge and the ability to learn appropriate responses with or without force, which makes us different and would let us survive in the end. I guess banning ads would be a cool shot though, anyway. Yay.

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