#TDOG (The Decisions Of Groups, November 05, 2016):

Do you have a default tendency to say: ‘Yes’? When do you abandon your own information and follow the herd? Can herds form because of individual selfish interests? How do bee colonies decide? Are all social animals herd animals? Is there no good way to ‘independently’ aggregate group preferences without a ‘dictator’? How does aggregation of preferences and information differ from each other? Must a jury consider everyone’s opinions? Does the nature of the problem (whether cognition, coordination, or cooperation) influence group decision making? Can majority decision making be completely chaotic? Do group sizes and social hierarchies matter? When can small groups outperform both experts as well as crowds (say, prediction markets)? Are diversity and independence (always?) crucial for a group to work effectively? How are situations with fixed and evolving preferences different? Are graded choices often better than binary? Are there powerful arguments for not being truthful in a group? Must free riders and liars be punished? How do inter & intra-group competition influence groups? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from economics & game theory (Prof. Arunava Sen, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi), cognitive sciences (Prof. Narayanan Srinivasan, CBCS, University of Allahabad, Allahabad), & animal behaviour (Dr. T. N. C. Vidya, JNCASR, Bangalore).

Listen in….

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TDOG show.

Prof. Arunava Sen (game theory, social choice theory) is Professor in the Economics and Planning Unit of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), New Delhi. He completed his B.A. from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi (1978), & then did his Masters from the Delhi School of Economics, New Delhi (1980). He went on to do his M.Phil from Oxford University, England (1982) followed by a Ph.D from Princeton University, USA (1987). His key research areas are game theory, randomized voting, auctions & mechanism design, social choice theory and decision theory. His primary research interest is the design of voting rules. According to a classical result in strategic voting theory (the Gibbard- Sattherhwaite Theorem) it is impossible to design a voting rule where voters vote truthfully where the outcome depends on the preferences of more than one voter (i.e. is non-dictatorial). His work has investigated the degree of homogeneity in voter preferences required to escape this negative result and allow for the possibility of wellbehaved voting rules. He has published close to 40 journal articles & five book articles. He is the Associate Editor for four journals, including, ‘Review of Economic Design’ and ‘Social Choice and Welfare’. He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society (2003), and also received the Mahalanobis Memorial Medal in the year 2000 from the Indian Econometric Society. Prof. Sen is also a recipient of the Infosys Prize for Social Sciences (2012).

Prof. Narayanan Srinivasan (cognitive sciences) is currently Professor and Head at the Centre of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences (CBCS), University of Allahabad, Allahabad. He was previously a visiting scientist at the Riken Brain Science Institute, Japan, from 2006 to 2012. He has a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, and then an M.S. & Ph.D. in Psychology from University of Georgia, Athens, USA. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Louisville, USA, & also worked at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore before joining CBCS. CBCS is one of the first centres for cognitive science in India, and Prof. Srinivasan has been working here for over 12 years. He is interested in understanding mental processes, especially attention, emotions, consciousness, self, and decision making, using multiple methodologies. He has edited seven books and three special issues on Mindfulness & Cognitive Processing for Springer as a guest editor. He also has more than 125 journal papers, book chapters and full papers in conference proceedings. Prof. Srinivasan is a fellow of Association for Psychological Science (APS) and the Psychonomic Society. He is currently an associate editor of Frontiers in Cognitive Science, Cognitive Processing, Royal Society OpenScience, Neuroscience of Consciousness, and Psychological Studies and also a member of the editorial board of Connection Science. He also recently (2016) received an award for academic excellence at University of Allahabad.

Dr. T. N. C. Vidya (animal behaviour, phylogeography)Ÿ is a Faculty Fellow at the Evolutionary and Organismal Biology Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore. Her academic interests are in the areas of animal behaviour and socioecology, phylogeography, and conservation biology with a specific focus on the behaviour of large social animals. Her current research is primarily on Asian elephants’ social organization and behaviour, in a long-term project based on monitoring hundreds of individually identified elephants in southern India. She completed her integrated doctorate degree from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, obtaining a Masters in Biology (2000) and then her Ph.D. (2005) from the Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES). She also carried out part of her doctoral work at the Centre for Environmental Research and Conservation, Columbia University, New York. Dr. Vidya carried out her postdoctoral research on mongoose sociogenetics at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, after which she joined JNCASR as a Ramanujan Fellow. She is known in the field of molecular ecology for conducting one of the first studies of population genetic structure and phylogeography in a wild vertebrate. This study on Asian elephants, enabled inferences about social organization, genetic structure, and phylogeography at the regional and global scale, and spawned new research on largemammal biogeography in the Western Ghats. She was a recipient of the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) Young Scientist Award in 2007 and is a member of the IUCN SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TDOG mentionsMarquis de Condorcet, Lewis Caroll (Charles Ludwig Dodgson), Francis Galton, Herbert Simon, Kenneth Arrow, D. C. McGarvey, W. D. Hamilton, Elinor Ostrom, Phillip E. Tetlock, Cass Sunstein, & John Surowiecki, among others.