Nobel winning game theorists on change


The mathematical field of game theory, explored by John Von Neumann in the ’40s, and broadened by John Nash in the late ’50s and beginning of the ’60s has been applied mainly to economics. To me it is interesting, because I view it as a discipline where the experimental subjects can, sometimes even must be aware of the rules of that are governing the situation, and their awareness interacts with the boundaries of what is possible. This interaction confounds those that would rather believe in a clean situation that can be conveniently analyzed. When reality stops behaving like the models would predict, in game theory it looks like the players just invented new rules, their behavior following meta-rules of unknown origin.

I met John Nash, and his colleague Robert Aumann recently. Both won the nobel prize for economy (there isn’t one for mathematics!) for their achievements in games theory.

In our conversation I asked them one of my ‘usual’ questions about the impact of accelerating change, and the strains to which individuals and societies which adapt are exposed. It took a little prodding to let them admit that a new kind of change might indeed be happening! That not all change is equal. That the accumulation of a quantitative change can burst into a phase-changing level of qualitative change.

Here are three videos…

Conversation with John Nash

Conversation with Robert Auman

The two hour long unedited recording at a conference of the ISEO Istitute in which they tell about both their work, and their life is also available in streaming or for download.