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



  1. You left out: _ Visit a Van Down by the River
    ..... but nice post ... makes you think I think ... who's driving the van, for example?

  2. Here's my thought process.
    Job Center... boring!
    Family... nah, probably on a fun adventure vacation trip without them
    Entertainment Hall... I wonder the event is?
    Museum on Brain Functioning... look at watch, how much time do I have before my date with Mr. British accent?
    End Trip... never!!!

    So, I'd tap on the glass and ask if we can just drive around for some sight seeing.

  3. I don't understand why you wouldn't know what "end trip" means when you put it in relation to the other buttons. I wouldn't hesitate to push the End Trip button as soon as I realized I couldn't converse with the driver. Better to get out of this "dream like sequence" and start over rather than go somewhere you don't want to go with someone you can't speak to.


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