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Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Road-crossing Algorithm

Despite the magnitude of evolution, and advancement in technology, the primal instincts have marked their presence in almost all aspects of our lives. and I would like to share one such experience that brings forth the true attitude lying deep within us, through, 'The Road-crossing Algorithm'

When I was little, I remember watching in the Discovery Channel that zebras had stripes because when a predator looked at a zebra herd, it could not differentiate the individual from the herd, because of the inability occuring due to the colour blindness associated with the predator.

Similarly, when a vehicle driver, sees a lot of people crossing the road together, he slows down, due to the herd like behaviour of human beings, where as when he sees a single person crossing the road, due to distinguishibility, he rarely slows down, unless the person is in a strikable distance from the vehicle.


This instinct is something that is common in all human beings, and has helped us survive through the ages. In our every day experience we come across situations where we come across accidents happening to single people crossing the road, on the contarary to a lot of people crossing the road. It is also an everyday experience, that when a single individual tries to cross the road, most of the time, the driver takes advantage of the situation, trying to confuse the person who wants to get to the other side, and in some cases, abusing the person point out to his carelessness. While such scenarios are rarely seen on the herd :P


Also, when you look at the red light provided to stop people crossing as and when they feel like, the light also serves to accumulate people to behave herd-like. Also, the presence of "Zebra"- crossing is a mere indication of what the lights signify. 


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