Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle created The Game of Oligarchy, which "shows that the 'free market' leads inexorably to one person getting all the money and everyone else going broke. And fast." Read the rest
The parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are taking a calculated risk; they're weighting whatever doubts they have about the efficacy of vacItcines against their doubts about vaccine safety and their doubts about the seriousness of infectious diseases, basically betting that either vaccines don't work and/or vaccines aren't safe and/or the diseases just aren't that big a deal. Read the rest
About 800,000 federal workers aren't getting paid because Trump doesn't want to lose the game of chicken he foolishly chose to play. Now he is forcing 50,000 to come back to work, but they won't get paid.
From Washington Post:
The Trump administration on Tuesday said it has called back tens of thousands of federal workers to fulfill key government tasks, including disbursing tax refunds, overseeing flight safety and inspecting the nation’s food and drug supply, as it seeks to blunt the impact of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The nearly 50,000 furloughed federal employees are being brought back to work without pay — part of a group of about 800,000 federal workers who are not receiving paychecks during the shutdown, which is affecting dozens of federal agencies large and small. A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a bid by unions representing air traffic controllers and other federal workers to force the government to pay them if they are required to work.
One of the holy grails of computer science is unsupervised machine learning, where you tell an algorithm what goal you want it to attain, and give it some data to practice on, and the algorithm uses statistics to invent surprising ways of solving your problem. Read the rest
Fortnite is popular for tons of reasons, but chief among it is the "battle royale" style of combat -- 100 random players dropped on an island, foraging for defenses and weapons, and killing each other until only one is left standing. There's no in-game chat, so you have to assume that anyone you encounter is a threat. In such a situation, it's necessarily dog-eat-dog, yes?
It works like this: Sloan unlocked an upgrade that lets you display a "heart" icon above your head. So he tried using it as a single-bit mode of game-theoretical communication. When he was dropped into the game, upon encountering another player, he'd refrain from shooting -- and instead toss up the "heart" icon.
At first, it didn't work. The other player kept on killing him anyway. Until ...
Read the rest
Then, one night, it worked. And, in many games since, it’s worked again. Mostly I get blasted, but sometimes I don’t, and when I don’t, the possibilities bloom. Sometimes, after we face off and stand down, the other player and I go our separate ways. More frequently, we stick together. I’ve crossed half the map with impromptu allies.
When it works, it is usually because I have a weapon and my potential ally doesn’t. When (shockingly) I do not blast them and (even more shockingly) do not pull a bait and switch, a real human connection is established, on a channel deeper than any afforded by the interface.
When we think of democracy, we generally think of voting: the people are polled, the people decide. But voting is zero-sum: it has winners and losers. There are other models of governance that can make claim to democratic legitimacy that produce wins for everyone. Read the rest
You probably know the “you cut, I choose” method to split a cake between two people who want as much for themselves as possible: one person cuts the cake into two pieces and the other person gets to choose first. Now, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have applied cake-cutting game theory to the establishment of electoral districts.
From 3 Quarks Daily:
In American politics, however, cutting states into electoral districts doesn’t have a similarly fair method. The political party in charge often decides where the electoral lines are drawn and does so in such a way to gain an advantage – a process called gerrymandering.
But now, Ariel Procaccia, Wesley Pegden, and Dingli Yu at Carnegie Mellon University have come up with a way to extend the cake cutting technique to electoral redistricting to make the system a lot fairer.
“What we think is exciting about this is that it leverages the competition of the two parties. They can both act in their own self-interest and still result in an outcome that is mathematically fair,” says Procaccia.
Does something so fair stand a chance in politics?
This simulation, called The Evolution of Trust starts with a variation of the prisoners' dilemma. You can choose to put a coin into a slot. Another person has the same choice on a different machine. You can't communicate with the other person. The only thing you know is this: if the other person put a coin in their slot, you will receive 3 coins. And if you put a coin in your slot, the other person will get 3 coins. What's the best strategy?
Trust is falling. Why? And how can we fix it?
My interactive guide to the game theory of trust is now OUT!
— Nicky Case (@ncasenmare) July 25, 2017
Case 1: other person inserts coin. If you put a coin in the slot, you will have a net gain of 2 coins. If you don't put a coin in the slot you will gain 3 coins. So the best thing to do is not put a coin in the slot.
Case 2: other person doesn't insert coin. If you put a coin in the slot, you will have a net loss of 1 coin. If you don't put a coin in the slot you lose nothing. So the best thing to do is not put a coin in the slot.
In either case, it's to your advantage not to put a coin in the slot. But what happens when you play several rounds of the game with the same person? Are there better strategies? Read the rest
Any well-designed self-driving car will be at pains to avoid killing people, if only to prevent paperwork delays when they mow someone down. Read the rest
In 2012, Google rolled out Certificate Transparency, a clever system to spot corrupt "Certificate Authorities," the entities who hand out the cryptographic certificates that secure the web. If Certificate Authorities fail to do their jobs, they put the entire electronic realm in danger -- bad certificates could allow anything from eavesdropping on financial transactions to spoofing industrial control systems into accepting malicious software updates. Read the rest
As the US government ramps up its insistence that visitors (and US citizens) unlock their devices and provide their social media accounts, the solution have run the gamut from extreme technological caution, abandoning mobile devices while traveling, or asking the government to rethink its policy. But Maciej Cegłowski has another solution: a "travel mode" for our social media accounts. Read the rest
Detectives from Scotland Yard's cybercrime unit decided the easiest way to get around their suspect's careful use of full-disk encryption and strong passphrases on his Iphone was to trail him until he made a call, then "mug" him by snatching his phone and then tasking an officer to continuously swipe at the screen to keep it from going to sleep, which would reactivate the disk encryption. Read the rest
Yesterday, Google announced "Youtube Go," an "offline first" version of the popular video service designed for the Indian market where internet coverage is intermittent, provided by monopolistic carriers that have a history of network discrimination, and where people have a wide variety of devices, including very low-powered ones. Read the rest
Game theory is the place where politics, economics, psychology and math meet, and it offers the seductive promise of being able to quantify empirically optimal outcomes from thorny problems ranging from whether to go to war to how to split the tab at a restaurant. Read the rest