Your points are very well taken - there is most certainly a trade off in
computation and pay off. But let's ask ourselves: how do real world people
make this trade-off? Having just done some consulting work, I know that
organizations routinely make such computations. Before hiring a consultant
or devoting resources to solving a problem, managers frequently ask: will
the cost of finding the solution get me a pay-off? The managers have the
collective intelligence of the organization (other workers, books,
reports, corporate archives, etc) that will help them answer this

But in other cases, framing the issue as a computational cost issue is
misleading because it assumes that actors will engage in an even harder
computation. Most beginning chess players seem to learn in a fashion
similar to a nueral net. For example, they aim to acheive a state
("win") by doing certain actions ("control the center"). If they fail to
control the center, they loose a bunch and then shape up. In a broad
sense, they are utility maximizers, but in a narrow sense they are not
doing anything resembling the actors depicted in, say, Krep's
Microeconomics text. They are in a feed back loop with their environment,
not engaged in an utility maximization computation.


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