Extropy +7: Game Theory
“Most complicated negotiations are predictable.”
Bruce Bueno de Mesquito, CIA & DOD Consultant/Game Theorist
Analog to Asimov’s Psychohistory realized in Game Theory-Based Computer Simulations with 90% success rate in predicting future political outcomes.
This to me represents the pinnacle (or a pinnacle) of the outsourcing of information processing in order to supplement human intelligence — and it has extropy written all over it.
In his TED presentation (below), Bruce Bueno de Mesquita lays out his predictions for Iran and its nuclear future. The essential pieces of information in Game Theory based-predictions, the questions that must be asked, are as follows, and these are what BdM runs through his own simulations:
- Who are the key players, or agents of influence?
- What do they say they want?
- How focused are they on the one issue, as opposed to multiple issues?
- How much persuasive influence do they have?
Outcome and credit are also important to consider, i.e. how valuable are these to the key players? If we know how willing the key players are to sacrifice themselves for a cause, we can also predict how reasonable (or unreasonable) they would be in negotiations. If they don’t care at all about the credit, they probably won’t hear any pleas for negotiation. However, if they are “reasonably self-interested”, so to speak, they may want their name on the final treaty that is drawn up and hence would be willing to sit down and chat with you. Most people, according to BdM, fall somewhere in between absolutely wanting credit and wanting a definite outcome.
Game Theory is a field of mathematics that applies all of the above pieces of information with the following assumptions about individuals:
- People are “rationally” self-interested, that is, they try to do what they think is in their own best interests.
- People have values and beliefs.
- People have limitations.
Interesting to note at the end of the video the speaker’s answer to the question of what impact such simulated outcomes could have upon word reaching the ears of the Iranian Key Players; that “the Americans” believe it will be futile to try to rouse the masses to get behind bomb building… Wouldn’t this just spur them on all the more?
‘No, no, just the opposite’, BdM says. ‘Iran will make just enough to demonstrate their capacity to make a bomb, and perhaps settle on that stance quicker having seen my predictions’ (paraphrased).
“Let’s hope so”, says the TED man. Yes, indeed, I say — inşallah.
Watching this kind of makes me want to study Game Theory. : )
Any good book recommendations amongst you readers out there?