Constrained Optimization

There is a well-known paper by the economist David Romer that claims that professional football teams (at least as of the mid-2000s) behaved predictably irrationally, if their actual goals were to win and thereby maximize medium-run profits: essentially, teams kick more often on fourth downs than the expected value of going for a first down or touchdown would predict.

Perhaps true, although last night’s kick-heavy Superbowl certainly gave the impression of two corporate, collective agents maximizing precisely for goals unrelated to, perhaps antagonistic to human enjoyment. I have a feeling a lot of things will seem like that going forward.

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