In my continuing pursuit (albeit with a slow down of blog posts) I have settled on a book that has me enthralled. It is The Predictioneer’s Game: Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita. Featured in an article I read some time in the summer he has been using Game Theory to predict political changes for twenty five years. Most of us have heard to typical GT example of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, but Mesquita goes much further and opens the concept of Game Theory wide open way before He delves into the maths.
His opening example is on reversing the ‘game’ we play when we go to buy a car. When you sit in front of a salesperson in a car showroom they are holding all the cars, at the end of the deal they ask you how much you want to pay – which might require the salesperson to ‘go and check with the manager’ and you might think you are getting a good deal. Mesquita’s plan is about reversing the power in the game, which he, his family and his students use when buying a (new) car. First you research the car, its average value and be very specific about which model you want and what extras you want with it. Then the fun begins; call up every dealer with that car and starting with the first one you say… ‘At 5pm today i will be buying [the car], I am calling every dealer in the area and whoever gives me the cheapest price will get the check.’ Some dealers refuse to ‘play’ but most go with it, it changes the situation and requires the dealers to do what is in their own interest – offer the cheapest price without knowing what they are offering it against. A blind auction if you will, but with the essential ingredient of game theory at the centre; everyone acts in their own best interest.
Swirling around in my mind with all this my recently gained knowledge and some understanding of Actor Network Theory, also (of course) are the constant swirling thoughts of data visualisation. I am off to play with Processing and some XML stuff, having decided that Logic will be the subject of my next, imminent post.