Dolphin economics

November 24, 2014

In response to a question at Marginal Revolution about potential alien economies:

I can imagine a dolphin-like civilization which lacks money.  Dolphins seem to have relatively few goods of value, yet they are highly intelligent and have well-developed emotional lives, or at least they could be so even if you are for some reason skeptical about current-day dolphins.

Current dolphin goods seem to be food, sex, kids, and conversation, with a fairly tight PPF.  They don’t buy lampshades.  Most of “dolphin economic growth” seems to come from finding more and better food, getting more and better sex, finding safer environments for the children, and learning to enjoy other dolphins more.  It’s hard to store dolphin goods and thus it is hard for the Mengerian origin of money story to get underway.

Also covered are bird-like and bee-like economies.


June 12, 2009

Batman Villains and Cooperation: A Utility Analysis

First, we have to make certain assumptions. Specifically, we need to assign probabilities of capturing Batman and figure out how much these probabilities increase due to the addition of a new cooperating villain. We also need to assign utility values for the Joker for each scenario. Let’s start with utilities.

For not killing Batman, we can obviously assign the Joker a utility of 0.
For capturing Batman on his own, let’s assign the Joker a utility of 10.
For capturing Batman with the help of x other villains, the utility would be 10/x

The last one is sort of tricky. This means that if the Joker cooperates with one other villain (say Two-Face) and together they manage to kill Batman, then the utility for each would be 5. In effect, this means that the villains “split” the utility of 10.

University Economics would’ve been waaaay more fun if we’d been using Batman.