Day by Day Daily Cartoon by Chris Muir

The Mad Scientist... Mwahahahahahahahaha

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Game theory - a moronblogger introspective

Okay, so this is inspired by Ace going just a little off the reservation (go ahead and read it, he's in my blogroll on the sidebar, and I'll try to link to it when I'm not as lazy or off work) and wtfhesaskingabouthowmanyabortionstheobamashad!!!!

Right. Except, this is not normal nor usual behaviour. Not even for Ace. So, what's led to this?

That's where game theory comes in.

Basically, game theory tries to predict how rational 'players' will act in given scenarios. The most appropriate one referred to here is the Prisoners' Dilemma. But I'm not here to explain how it works (you can read up on it). In this instance, we're dealing with a multi-iterative version that maintains state (we remember what actions were taken in the previous iteration). And the 'best' strategy is called 'tough-but-fair'. We didn't start the fire, but we will surely end it only when the other guy does.

Remind you of anything?

Right, MAD. Mutual Assured Destruction. Where both parties have so much to lose in starting something, this practically assures (a scary, tense, and none too stable, as each party strives to gain the advantage) peace. But what happens when one side pulls the trigger? Not if, but when. Once that decision has been made, and the ICBMs are flying, and your SDI systems have been activated, what do you do? You pull the trigger yourself. You take out your nuclear card, read the appropriate code groups off, and authorise the launches. And God have mercy on us all.

This is what Ace proposed.

Thing is, though, rational beings usually shy away from this kind of tactic. At the real MAD level, the risks were simply too high to contemplate 'cheating', the payoffs too low. The Soviets knew this - their game was survival as well, and while the USA kept upping the odds, it never got to the point when the Russians went "Ah, bugger it, let's end the world".

Problem: What if the 'opponent' knew you would not use the 'tough-but-fair' approach, and you would continue to (in the classic Prisoner's Dilemma language) keep silent?

Problem: What if the 'opponent', regardless of what he knew, did not act rationally? IOW, did not follow the expectations of game theory?

Well then, you're in for a world of hurt. Because in the first instance, you are not willing to 'punish' the other 'player' for escalating, and the risk/payoff matrix suddenly becomes far more favourable for him. And in the second instance, the risks no longer guide his decisions while they still guide yours. In any case, you are suddenly on the defensive. And a defensive game is not often a winning game, especially if the other player had seized the upper hand.

Now, I grant you that this is game theory - it's very nice on paper, but acting it out always entails more complexity. Nevertheless, the basics, the fundamentals of game theory, do seem to underpin a large number of decisions we make. Which makes the dichotomy really, really strange.

The right-wingers, by and large, grasp the second problem quite well - especially when it comes to Islamic terrorism. They do not act rationally or according to the Western playbook. Accordingly, we have to play by their understanding - overwhelming power, shock and awe, not only showing them the iron fist but using it, and demonstrating an instant willingness to use it, and succeeding time and time again, before displaying the velvet glove.

The left-wingers instinctively use the first problem against us too - whatever else they may say, they know deep down somewhere we would rarely stoop to their level of mudslinging and rumour-mongering, and generally acting like primordial slime - so they feel safe in deploying all of these against us, confident that we would not react by pulling the same tricks they did.

Well, I for one don't like being fucked in the ass, even if it was figurative and by proxy. I have absolutely no problem acting like an ass (or a Democrat, same thing really), and while my dick is not so big, it's still gonna hurt when I ram it up your shithole. I know this is an un-Christian attitude. I will have to account for it someday. That didn't stop me from sitting on a particularly obnoxious girl who was bugging me all through recess. And even as a kid, I was fairly hefty.

And it's not going to stop me from pulling out all the stops. Ace has inhibitions - blunted and blurred by Val-U-Rite as it often may be; I don't. Or rather, my inhibitions are intellectual. I won't say I was a sociopath, no - but it comes close. But I will say this much:

I've seen pictures of Obama's kids. I won't have asked the question posed in the first link, nor what it implied - because in my opinion, the only possible answer is not only a 'No', but a 'Hell, NO!' Take that any way you want.

And then, you have Ace in his truly fine moments. We don't actually have to descend to the level of the Libtards, because we can surmount them. Bear in mind that this is Ace on maybe 75% max of his theoretical output of awesomeness (he's sick, as in using Nyquil and some concoction of monkey-brain and amniotic fluid, but mostly Nyquil).

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