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When I look at the current political landscape, I often feel angry about what I perceive as unwillingness on the part of so many Politicians in power to take action needed. Recently I was reading on a different matter and the discussion drifted into 'Game Theory'. Though my understanding is far from perfect, Game Theory does help reduce certain events and reactions to a more easily understood series of results. I'm trying to keep this post to the more basics elements. For those interested and willing to wade thru rather extensive and dense set of works, a bewildering variety of options and variables can be seen that will skew the best choices and the final results. However, I believe that after a certain point, one finds that most variables tend to become self canceling.
For a good overview I suggest the Wikipedia link
'The Prisoners Dilemma' is a classic bit of Game theory. It is based on long term cooperation for superior group gain versus short term betrayal for personal gain. I've began to believe that our current system of Government has fallen into a mode of operation similar to the Prisoners Dilemma. If played thru several rounds, cooperation produces the best overall results. In the short term, betrayal leads to better results for an individual. To add to the problems we run into, is that far too much of the world views the politics and economics as a Zero Sum game the only way one person can profit is for another to suffer loss. It seems most politicians and governments today operate on a Short Term/ Zero Sum approach, failing to see long term greater profitability. Most indications are that Politics & Economics are not Zero Sum nor does Short Term solutions produce viable political results..
The concept of 'Tit for Tat' was long considered the most viable option . It works fairly well, though the 'Tit for Tat with Forgiveness' strategy works slightly better. Current politics seemed to be working under a short term viewpoint and Zero Sum view. The problem is that both Democrats and Republicans are both are operating under the Short Term/Zero Sum approach. Until both sides see the advantage of cooperation, and yes, BOTH sides must cooperate, we're all losing this most important of games.
The more complex societies get and the more complex the networks of interdependence within and beyond community and national borders get, the more people are forced in their own interests to find non-zero-sum solutions. That is, win-win solutions instead of win-lose solutions.... Because we find as our interdependence increases that, on the whole, we do better when other people do better as well - so we have to find ways that we can all win, we have to accommodate each other - Bill Clinton, Wired interview, December 2000
posted by Greymagius @ 1:38 AM
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The problem with game theory is that it's based on assumptions that are very unrealistic for parties that interact with each other. It assumes that each party's preferences/objectives and options/opportunities (or the probabilities of them) are fixed, known and given throughout an interaction -- whereas real-life parties use emotion, persuasion & rational debate to influence each others' objectives & perceived opportunities.
As a result of its unrealistic assumptions (which are also used in economics) game theory finds no role for emotion or rational debate between parties. Each party simply optimizes its own preferences given what the others are doing -- the famous Nash equilibrium. Fine for pure market situations, where parties don't communicate. Very misleading for politics, war & personal interactions.
Check out drama theory (see the Dilemmas Galore website) for an approach that adds the missing element to game theory. It shows how parties use emotion & rational argument to define the game they're going to play, before they play it. If you go to the Dilemmas Galore website, you can download free software & get help using it.
NATO is moving into using drama theory for peace/stabilization operations. DoD is considering it.
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I'm currently working in the telecomm industry but one of my passions is still politics.
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