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Ian

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3

How do you structure this prompt?

Hello,

I came across this question in one of the online blogs and thought it was very interesting.

"An asteroid is going to hit the earth and destroy 100% of it. You have several options: create a missile to destroy it (blowing it into several particles which will still impact the earth but destroy only 50%), or create a missile to push it out of the way (this only has a 50% chance of working though). Which alternative do you pick?"

How do you structure something like this? What is the expectation for a prompt like this? Is it sufficient to just lay out an approach or is it an estimation of probability type of case?

Thanks.

Hello,

I came across this question in one of the online blogs and thought it was very interesting.

"An asteroid is going to hit the earth and destroy 100% of it. You have several options: create a missile to destroy it (blowing it into several particles which will still impact the earth but destroy only 50%), or create a missile to push it out of the way (this only has a 50% chance of working though). Which alternative do you pick?"

How do you structure something like this? What is the expectation for a prompt like this? Is it sufficient to just lay out an approach or is it an estimation of probability type of case?

Thanks.

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I have a question for you: What's the expected value (EV) in each of these scenarios?

They're the same. As such, no, it's not succifient to lay out estimation of probability.

I have another question for you: did you clarify the objective?

Clarify objective - are we trying to save humanity? Are we ok with living with 50% of the population dead?

It's all about objective here...the rest follows.

I won't provide a further framework as i think you should create it yourself with this objective in mind....post it and we'll review :)

Additionally, I've created a case with a very similar sort of dilema/thinking. Try it to see how you might think about the entire problem:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/management-consulting-cases/brain-teaser/beginner/coronavirus-times-covid-19-brainteaser-194

I have a question for you: What's the expected value (EV) in each of these scenarios?

They're the same. As such, no, it's not succifient to lay out estimation of probability.

I have another question for you: did you clarify the objective?

Clarify objective - are we trying to save humanity? Are we ok with living with 50% of the population dead?

It's all about objective here...the rest follows.

I won't provide a further framework as i think you should create it yourself with this objective in mind....post it and we'll review :)

Additionally, I've created a case with a very similar sort of dilema/thinking. Try it to see how you might think about the entire problem:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/management-consulting-cases/brain-teaser/beginner/coronavirus-times-covid-19-brainteaser-194

Hi Ian, thank you for your thoughts. The way I am thinking about this is as follows: Supposing that the objective is to save humanity, I would like to look at four broad factors - Technical aspects related to missiles, Human capabilities, and trade-offs. 1. Technical aspects - a. difference between technology of both missiles; b. how much time will it take to build each missile; c. Is it better to build one vs the other in terms of resources available; 2 - Human capabilities - a. Does it need international cooperation? If so, what is the timeline; b - is there a conflict of interest between countries; c - who will lead the mission; d - technical expertise; e - prior experience; trade-offs - a. difference between quality of life; b - can we say which 50% part of the world will be destroyed eg: Antarctica vs America? I apologize for the funky formatting. I am unable to do it the usual way. I would love your feedback on this structure. Thanks — ABCD on Jul 01, 2020

I think this is very structured and good! — Ian on Jul 04, 2020

However, again, just be careful....do you need all of that? Or, is it as simple as just clarifying...what do we care about most? — Ian on Jul 04, 2020

You are at risk of overcomplicating a problem to sound smart. It's easy to make thinks complicated, hard to make them simple :) — Ian on Jul 04, 2020

My main question is: Do any of your points change the expected outcome? Or are they all already embedded in that 50% vs 100%? — Ian on Jul 04, 2020

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Hi!

I agree with Ian - it is all about the objective. If it is

  • Avoid the extinction of humanity!

then there is a clear logic for the decision.

  • You will avoid extinction of humanity with 100% probability in scenario 1 (even though it will come at the cost of having half of the planet devastated).
  • You will only avoid the extinction of humanity with 50% in scenario 2.

So given the above objective, Scenario 1 appears preferable in rigorous terms.

Alternatively, you can also look at it through a "value at risk" lens.

  • In scenario 1, only 50% of the earth is at risk.
  • In scenario 2, 100% of the earth is at risk.

So again, rigorous logic leads to choice of scenario 1.

Cheers,

Sidi

Hi!

I agree with Ian - it is all about the objective. If it is

  • Avoid the extinction of humanity!

then there is a clear logic for the decision.

  • You will avoid extinction of humanity with 100% probability in scenario 1 (even though it will come at the cost of having half of the planet devastated).
  • You will only avoid the extinction of humanity with 50% in scenario 2.

So given the above objective, Scenario 1 appears preferable in rigorous terms.

Alternatively, you can also look at it through a "value at risk" lens.

  • In scenario 1, only 50% of the earth is at risk.
  • In scenario 2, 100% of the earth is at risk.

So again, rigorous logic leads to choice of scenario 1.

Cheers,

Sidi

(edited)

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Hello!

Honestly, I don´t think you would get something like this in strategy consulting interviews.

In any case, if you did -and would be rather cool-, I would agree with:

  1. Agreeing on any specific targets
  2. Finding out constraints we might have (e.g., in terms of timing, economically, etc.)
  3. Splitting your tree in "lines of action" (e.g., building the missile, imitating the movie Interstellar and finding a way out of Earth, etc.) and discussing each of them

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

Honestly, I don´t think you would get something like this in strategy consulting interviews.

In any case, if you did -and would be rather cool-, I would agree with:

  1. Agreeing on any specific targets
  2. Finding out constraints we might have (e.g., in terms of timing, economically, etc.)
  3. Splitting your tree in "lines of action" (e.g., building the missile, imitating the movie Interstellar and finding a way out of Earth, etc.) and discussing each of them

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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