“And if not now, when?” –Rabbi Hillel (Avot 1:14)

This is a rhetorical question, of course, because frequently the best answer to “when?” is “now.” And if you think of yourself as a consortium of extremely similar deciders, your personal decisions become amenable to the analysis of game theory. It is worth thinking about Schelling points in particular.

In The Strategy of Conflict Economist Thomas Schelling wrote about coordination problems in scenarios of limited information and the existence of a “focal point for each person’s expectation of what the other expects him to expect to be expected to do.” If this isn't confusing enough, it might help to think of the problem of meeting a colleague in New York City before the age of smartphones. You realize that you've neglected to agree on a place to meet. Where do you go? If you like, submit a suggestion here.

Going back the question of “when?” there are a couple of obvious Schelling points that your time-separated selves can choose: “now” and “later.” The consequences of each choice are left as an exercise for the reader.

Written in the spirit of this post.

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