CHAPTER 3

The Winner’s Trap

Americans spend an average of thirty-eight hours a year sitting in traffic (for urban drivers, it’s over sixty hours a year) at a cost of $121 billion in lost productivity and extra fuel. Ants, on the other hand, don’t have traffic jams. Entomologists have tried to create ant congestion by narrowing their paths and blocking their movements. But ants always collectively solve the problem by signaling the optimal paths to their group and continuing their steady march forward. Why are ants so much better at avoiding traffic jams? The answer lies in the fact that ants don’t have a sense of self and exist only as cooperators in a collective.1

The Winner’s Trap makes people look at traffic, and much of human interaction, ...

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