Sunday, October 30, 2005

'Prisoners Dilemma,' & other crap

Ayn Rand hated chess. That surprises me, but her reasons were interesting:
I could never play chess. I resent it on principle. It involves too much wasted thinking. Chess is all ifs,' and if there's one thing I cannot do mentally, it's handle anything more than two 'ifs.' In chess, you must consider hundreds of possibilities, it's all conditional, and I resent that. That is not the method of cognition; reality doesn't demand that kind of thinking. In cognition, if you define the problem clearly, you really have only one alternative: 'It is so' or 'It is not so.' There is not a long line of 'ifs' -- and if your opponent does this, you will do that. I can't function that way, for all the reasons that make me a good theoretical thinker: it's a different epistemological base.
Rand was not one who thought in 'conditionals' -- as she says, for her the accurate definition of a probem is the key to its solution. How unfashionable. As Don at Noodle Food muses, Rand's reasoning parallel his own "total disdain for game theory and much of modern economics (I'm speaking of the economics that tries to analyze all individual decisions in terms of cost/benefit analyses). Such theories do not refer to anything in reality. Take the classical prisoner's dilemma... In every analysis I've ever read, one question is never even considered..."

Read on here to find out just what that question is.

14 Comments:

Blogger maksimovich said...

Rand argues against choice and dismisses the anaology of choice and refutes her argument of being a theoretical thinker.

Each player in a game faces a choice among two or more possible strategies. A strategy is a predetermined ‘programme of play’ that tells her what actions to take in response to every possible strategy other players might use.

A crucial aspect of the specification of a game involves the information that players have when they choose strategies. The simplest games (from the perspective of logical structure) are those in which agents have perfect information, meaning that at every point where each agent's strategy tells her to take an action, she knows everything that has happened in the game up to that point. A board-game of sequential moves in which in which both players watch all the action (and know the rules in common), such as chess, is an instance of such a game.

She is claiming there exists no objective reality independent of an observer.The essence of the objectivist position is naive realism.

The principle parts of her ontology are

There exist identifiable things that have intrinsic attributes.We are observers or paticipants of this reality .but think of it being independent of us both before and after.The observers have predetermined roles to act within the framework of this reality.

Rand argues the orthodox view of the quantum interpretation problem.

With the arguments by DANF with the prisoners dilemma he takes the contrary view by introducing hidden variables into the Prisoners dilemma.

Long before game theory had come along to show people how to think about this sort of problem systematically, it had occurred to some actual military leaders and influenced their strategies. Thus the Spanish conqueror Cortez, when landing in Mexico with a small force who had good reason to fear their capacity to repel attack from the far more numerous Aztecs, removed the risk that his troops might think their way into a retreat by burning the ships on which they had landed. With retreat having thus been rendered physically impossible, the Spanish soldiers had no better course of action but to stand and fight—and, furthermore, to fight with as much determination as they could muster. Better still, from Cortez's point of view, his action had a discouraging effect on the motivation of the Aztecs. He took care to burn his ships very visibly, so that the Aztecs would be sure to see what he had done. They then reasoned as follows: Any commander who could be so confident as to willfully destroy his own option to be prudent if the battle went badly for him must have good reasons for such extreme optimism. It cannot be wise to attack an opponent who has a good reason (whatever, exactly, it might be) for being sure that he can't lose. The Aztecs therefore retreated into the surrounding hills, and Cortez had his victory bloodlessly.

This can also be seen in Henry V with the slaughter of the french prisoners at Agincourt.

What many commentators try to introduce is red herrings to the arguments of Choice produced by the PD.These are merely simplistic analogies and with the economic models they are more complex with more nodes of varibles and players introduced into the Game.

The better form to take is to use the alogrthims of John Maynard Smith and his Hawk Dove analogy.

The variance and changes between players and games is continuous and the oscillation always tends to revert back from Chaos to equillibreum (cooperation).

It is the accuracy of the description of the static and dynamic attributes of the reality that provides us with a fair choice and the convergence of the singularity.

My will shall shape the future. Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man's doing but my own. I am the force; I can clear any obstacle before me or I can be lost in the maze. My choice; my responsibility; win or lose, only I hold the key to my destiny.

Elaine Maxwell

10/30/2005 12:37:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Sorry Elaine, your cut and paste begins badly, ends poorly and has few good points in between. For example:

"Rand argues against choice and dismisses the anaology of choice and refutes her argument of being a theoretical thinker."

Um, no she doesn't argue this,and her statement about being a theoretical thinker is evidential, not an argument.

"She is claiming there exists no objective reality independent of an observer."

No, she is not.

"My will shall shape the future. Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man's doing but my own. I am the force; I can clear any obstacle before me or I can be lost in the maze. My choice; my responsibility; win or lose, only I hold the key to my destiny."

Sheesh. Read any Nietzsche lately?

10/30/2005 01:21:00 pm  
Blogger maksimovich said...

I apologise the last statement is by Elaine Maxwell the quote marks are not definitive.

I think it is you who do not understand the statement of fact sheshe proposed that defines a theoretical thinker who tries to impart the virtual into reality and the transferance of the model fails in fact.

Where she argues in cognition if you define the problem clearly ... you only have 2 OUTCOMES or P=2.The probable outcomes are ACTUALLY P=4.

It is in the real world where it is better.I prefer to read Bohr and Von Neumann,Korolenko,and Lorenz.Mandelbrot etc.

10/30/2005 01:58:00 pm  
Anonymous Ruth said...

Presume you have read An Open letter to Boris Spassky...totally agree with Rand myself.I used to think she was wrong about such things, and about libertarianism.But now I realise she was not.

10/30/2005 05:57:00 pm  
Anonymous Julian Pistorius said...

Ah! I will reveal my secret shame - I have always considered chess to be a waste of time! Glad to hear I'm not the only one.

For the interested, here is her letter to Spassky:

http://xyqe.com/chess/12-615-ayn-rand-s-letter-to-boris-spassky-bobby-fisher-read.shtml

It's bloody brilliant.

10/30/2005 07:01:00 pm  
Blogger Blair said...

"Chess is all ifs,' and if there's one thing I cannot do mentally, it's handle anything more than two 'ifs.'"

Please tell me why this woman is so well admired again?

Anyone that cannot handle more than two "ifs" in life is a blinkered religious zealot. The world is a lot more complicated than that, and people who wish to narrow it to two choices for every action do so because they need the world to be simple and conform to their belief system.

10/31/2005 02:38:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Do try and understand the point, Blair. Your own anti-Rand zealotry is rather tiresome, and obscures her point here: that setting thought adrift on a sea of 'conditionals' is very different to thinking in principles. As she says it's simply a "different epistemological base," and nothing at all to do with zealotry -- on her part anyway.

10/31/2005 11:08:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear PC.

If you think the key point of the prisoners dilemma is the guilt factor then you don't understand it!

To help you on your way let's modify the story a little:
...are detained by secret service agents for embarassing the current administration...etc.
(in case you're missing my point: now we know for sure that neither party is guilty)

10/31/2005 05:28:00 pm  
Blogger Rick said...

Game Theory rules. Silly PC and silly Noodlewoman.

Anybody adverse to chess for these reasons should hand back their digital watches, pocket calculators....oh yeah and does anybody know whether multiple IF/THEN architecture features in the work of software engineeirs? Hand back your blogs!

Hail hail John Von Neumann

10/31/2005 07:35:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Anon said: "Oh dear PC. If you think the key point of the prisoners dilemma is the guilt factor then you don't understand it!"

[Sigh] If you read the linked article, Oh Nameless One, you would see that guilt NOT being the key point is precisely the key point Don is making:

"In every analysis I've ever read, one question is never even considered let alone addressed: is the person in question guilty? Is this not an aspect relevant to man's decision-making? And this goes to the root of the issue. A proper epistemology focuses on the "it is." Is the prisoner guilty or innocent? The prinsoner's dilemma ignores that question and views man's epistemology as completely cut off from reality, concerned only with a churning of odds, incentives, desires, and tactics."

Rick said: "Game Theory rules. Silly PC and silly Noodlewoman"

As always, such impeccable reasoning.

10/31/2005 10:26:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Perhaps other readers might also like to read Don's piece before responding. For example, he does nt say, "Game theory sucks"; instead, he says: "This is not to say that there aren't legitimate uses for game theory or symbolic logic. But they are specialized fields of study, applicable in game like chess or poker."

10/31/2005 10:28:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PC said:
"[Sigh] If you read the linked article, Oh Nameless One, you would see that guilt NOT being the key point is precisely the key point Don is making"

but this goes to the heart of what i'm trying to say! guilt is irrelevant.

the dilemma part of the prisoners dilemma is that the (subgame perfect) nash equilibrium is an inefficient outcome. it has nothing to do with the story concocted to introduce it (in fact the only reason the prisoner theme is used is to explicitly prohibit player collaboration).

introducing concern of guilt, if that is what you are interested in, would change the game by altering the respective utilities for each strategy for the players, making it a different game!

far from being a niche specialization game theory, and variants of the prisoners dilemma in particular, are very useful for analyzing very interesting situations like barter and trade (and a whole lot more!).

11/01/2005 12:38:00 pm  
Blogger Rick said...

The chess argument stung ya didn' it.

Game Theory rules. Silly PC and silly Noodlewoman

As always, such impeccable reasoning.


If I give the histography -for- every Rickopinion along -with- every Rickopinion then Rickbrevity will be right out the Rickwindow.

Rick out

11/02/2005 12:49:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

come on, let's see a response!?

11/02/2005 11:07:00 pm  

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