University of California physicist William Newcomb invented a puzzle in 1960 that philosophers have been talking about for a while now. It is interesting partly because reasonable philosophers disagree with each other about its solution, partly because it has very little to do with jargon and moldering books, and partly because it has to do with free will. It works a bit like The Prisoner's Dilemma...

You are presented with two boxes: Box A contains \$1000 no matter what. Box B either contains nothing, or it contains \$1,000,000 depending on the decision of some supposedly infallible predictor. The predictor can be whatever you want, an alien intelligence, an angel, a time traveler, or something even weirder.

You can take either Box B alone, or you can take both boxes.

Here's the kicker: If the predictor guesses that you will take only Box B, then a million dollars will be in there. If the predictor guesses that you will take both boxes, then it will withhold the \$1,000,000.

What do you do?

Some people argue that no matter what the predictor guessed, you should take both boxes. The people who would choose both tend to reason that they perdictor has already made its guess and all that is necessary is to figure out the optimal choice. This table show's their reasoning:

```
You were predicted to    You were predicted to take
take Box B only.         both Box A and Box B.

You actually take        \$1,000,000               \$0
Box B only.

You actually take both   \$1,001,000               \$1,000
Box A and Box B.

```
It seems obvious that you get a thousand dollars more than a million or more than nothing no matter what the predictor guessed... so take the money and run!

Wait a minute though! Didn't we say the predictor was infallible? What if that part was emphasized in a prologue to the story: You are in a room full of twenty people. Each one before you put their head in a scanner (or looks into the eyes of the angel, or whatever) and then makes a choice. The people who take only Box B keep getting a million dollars. Everyone else receives only \$1000 and winds up looking wistfully at the millionaires.

Now itâ€™s your turn, do you want to stand by some silly little chart or join the millionaires club?