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126. The ethics of game theory: Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby & Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid

I avoid political commentary on this website , but in the current climate (31st January, 2017) I believe that it is very important for as many of us as possible to look dispassionately at what is happening and  try to understand what is going on below the surface rhetoric. The tool for this is game theory, about which I have written a book Rock, Paper, Scissors: ...

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119. Science in the real world: predicting society

If you think that science, and scientific thinking, have little to do with the rough-and-tumble of the real world, think again – and take a look at this wonderful paper by a group of psychologists and mathematicians from the Cornell-Princeton-Yale triangle (http://arxiv.org/pdf/1507.01561.pdf) that I recently had occasion to revisit. As with many scientific ...

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The secrets of cooperation

Several years ago (well, OK, in 2012) I did an interview for “Nature and Health” on the subject of cooperation (http://www.natureandhealth.com.au/news/create-cooperation). Looking back, I am very impressed by how the interviewer paraphrased what I had to say, and I still stand by the ten rules (based on scientific studies) that I came up with: Stay if you ...

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The Problem of Trust

Notes for Talk at Granada seminar “Physics meets the Social Sciences: Emergent Cooperative Phenomena, from Bacterial to Human Group Behaviour” (Wednesday, June 17 (2005)). This has been a staggeringly interesting meeting from my point of view, because I’m in the business of communicating the important ideas that we’ve been talking about to a much wider ...

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Game theory and our future: The Glugs of Gosh

Few people outside Australia will have heard of the Australian poet C.J. Dennis, creator of that wonderful rough diamond “The Sentimental Bloke”. But Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis wrote one of the great social parodies in his set of poems “The Glugs of Gosh,” and brilliantly anticipated the paradoxes of modern game theory in two of them: the ...

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Game theory is about people, not just mathematics. It needs a new name to reflect this

Game theory is all around us. Despite its innocuous-sounding name, it is not just a theory, and it deals with far more than traditional games. It is, in fact, about the real-life strategies that we use in our interactions with other people. Originally proposed by John von Neumann in the late 1940s, it provides a mathematical analysis of those strategies. His analysis ...

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59. What did John Nash do? Part 2: John Nash and Tosca

The problem that John Nash analyzed concerned situations (all too common in real life) where cooperation would produce the best overall outcome, but where individuals can be tempted by the logic of self-interest to cheat on the cooperation. When both sides cheat, however, the results can be catastrophic, as the characters in Puccini’s opera Tosca discover when they ...

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58. What did John Nash do? Part 1: The background

John Nash has recently been awarded the prestigious Abel Prize (the “mathematicians Nobel") at the ripe old age of 90 for “for striking and seminal contributions to the theory of nonlinear partial differential equations and its applications to geometric analysis.” But his fame, and his actual Nobel Memorial Prize, rest on his discovery of the “Nash equilibr...

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Game Theory in Real Life

Regensburg, Germany, 29–30 September 2011 Introductory Talk at Interdisciplinary Symposium “Ultimate and proximate determinants of aggression in man (and other primates)”

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