In my Novel Technology and Human Behavior course we have an assignment related to a specific novel technology and how it interacts with philosophical ideas and psychological reasoning. So, of course my group member Timmy and I decide to do work on something that is mostly unrelated to actual technology. We decided to look into different metrics for growth. GDP is the current standard for everything. High GDP and GDP growth is currently construed to mean that you have high well being in a given country. However, this is not what the metric was originally designed to measure. So what does GDP measure? It measure most major economic activity. It measures production, hospital bills, and end good sales for example. However, it excludes factors like education, house hold activities and the black market. These are serious gaps. As most people will tell you that have been employed we tend to focus on the activity that is measured. So if you’re at work and you need to get defect counts down or shorten call time for tech support you will do everything you can to make that happen. Even if it’s actually bad for the company you work for. So, if you have high defects you can reduce your measuring frequency to make it look like your defects are better. Or if you’re on a phone call you can be rude and just give the minimum help you can. These are negative results from a measurement.
In our poster we argue that something similar happens with GDP. So a tragedy of the common happens all the time. It can be something as inconsequential as replacing the water from a community water cooler. Most people won’t do it because you assume that some one else will. Below is an example of what I mean by how GDP is a tragedy of the commons.