For a particularly risible example of an economist planting his flag in neighbouring territory (in this case, traffic flow and operations research) without bothering to check what the locals think first, here’s a bright idea from Joshua Gans of Melbourne Business School:
Imagine also (and I know this might be a stretch) that we all entered our route plans into the iPhone and those plans were uploaded into the cloud. Then all of this information could be aggregated and the ‘optimal’ route for each of us worked out so that traffic was minimised. We would then receive directions based on the centrally coordinated route and all be better off for it…
Now you wouldn’t be compelled to follow the instructions handed to you but if it was meaningful you would follow them anyway as it will likely make you at least weakly better off by doing so. That is, the routes handed down could be incentive compatible and also update in real time as others came into and out of the mix.
That’s some algorithm! I trust Josh will leave the engineering up to someone else.