June 7, 2013

Destination Unknown

I am fond of finding, or creating, Thought Experiments as a way to focus attention on a particular problem. I created this one during a recent family discussion on how to balance life's competing values. Try your hand at how you would "resolve" it:

... You wake up and find yourself in some kind of vehicle, a bit like a black London taxicab. You try, but cannot find a way to converse with the driver, who is positioned in front of some kind of translucent, but foggy screen. You notice in front of you a computer touch-screen, labeled clearly: "Next Stop". Below the heading you see the following list of buttons:

   _ Visit Job Center
   _ Visit Family
   _ Visit Entertainment Hall
   _ Visit Museum on Brain Functioning
   _ End Trip

You have no idea if you are permitted to select more than one destination. You also do not know what "End Trip" means.

Question: What is your thought process before touching the screen?

[Note: I could simply have asked which destination do you touch first ... but I felt the more detailed "how do you analyze your thought process" question was more appropriate for this blog].


Image Credits

- London Black Cab, photo by DAVID ILIFF (CC-BY-SA 3.0, 2007), from Wikipedia at http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hackney_carriage, image cropped for height by c emerson
- The Passing of the Growler, published in Punch Magazine (Public Domain, 1907), Wikipedia, ibid