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An example: people spend huge amounts of time talking about the NFL's catch rules and how they need to be clarified without realizing that any clarification will most likely lead to new issues of catch or not. You don't mention the graphical aspect but I assume you think about that: a rule defines a shape in which probability functions and can be mapped. Change the rule and you get a new shape, which highlights the fact that rule changes don't have zero effect. I think people tend to assert that because they think more linearly as though raise this rate, this behavior changes and they cancel, when in fact behavior maps much more complexly.

I sometimes wonder if outside of physics and mathematics is there a rule which can exist without qualification and thus gaming. As in, thou shalt not kill ... but of course we justify killing in myriad ways. Sort of a Goedelian question.


Ethics and the law are two separate things. That is why different people can reach different ethical principles. For example there is an ethical position that some people take that it is wrong to perform experiments on animals that we would not be prepared to perform on humans. I think that is the position of Peter Singer, and Australian philosopher at one of the major American universities. The law has a different position that the requirements are lesser for animals.

What we would like is for our laws to reflect our ethical principles. This is what we usually do. We decide that it is ethically wrong to steal or murder and have laws that back that up, to make sure that people behave ethically. Hopefully we will eventually make some things that also are ethically wrong criminal, for example removing money from a company when it should be obvious that in the future it will go bankrupt as a result.

The gaming of algorithms is similar to the problem of benchmarking. The tend to get sed a lot in government funded areas such as health and education. As an example, in Australia we have an evaluation of research output. This has a lot of problems relating to how it is constructed. It doesn't matter how many authors a paper has, it counts as one publication in that research area, so I'm encouraged to do lots of collaborative research with other unis. Academics are also either counted as researchers or not if they are less than 40% research. So what is happening is more teaching only academics and more full-time researchers destroying the model of how a traditional uni works.

Spiegelhalter who now works a lot with risk but previously was involved with benchmarking and WinBUGS has commented that one of the major disasters in a UK hospital happened because all the administrators were focussed on was their benchmarks, not on how their hospital was operating.


great information.

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