I have had a fascination with how to effectively strategize and make effective decisions for most of my life. I have also attempted to as accurately as possible predict future events and the likelihood that one thing is likely to happen rather than some other event.
After seeing the movie “A Beautiful Mind” and watching the television show “Num3bers”; both about Game Theory, I decided to explore this concept of game-based thinking and decision making.
Game Theory is a discipline founded by John Von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern. Von Neumann, a Hungarian-born American mathematician, scientific renaissance man and polymath with his associate wrote Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, published in 1944 by Princeton University Press. This groundbreaking text created the interdisciplinary research field of game theory.
Game Theory among scientists and economists is the name used to describe mathematical concepts (systems) that were designed to explain why and how individuals and organizations strategize, i.e. make decisions when one person (or more than one other person) might also affect the outcome of the decision. Though I am not a mathematician I found the concepts of Game Theory exiting and knew that if needed I could always find a mathematician or statistician to guide me on game based strategies.
Both Von Neumann and Morgenstern realized early on that a constant challenge for the application of game theory (modeling) would be defining, limiting, isolating or accounting for every set of factors and variables that influence strategy and outcome. They understood there would always be what Morgenstern called “X-factor” that simply cannot be accounted for. “For instance, no strategy can predict the actions of a negotiator who is in the throes of a religious revelation.”
Game theory is based on logic and rationality and human beings are anything but rational and logical. In traditional economic models, a rational and logical maximization of one’s own payoff. Therefore, in every situation, it is likely if one is a clear thinker s/he will always act to gain as much as possible, regardless of how it affects others. Of course the argument could be made that for some people serving others might be the maximum payoff.
Talking to economists, futurists and other social scientists either brought either a religious fervor for the theory or extreme criticism. Those critical of game theory pointed out its limitations and the damage it can do when applied poorly.
As a meditation teacher, a student of Zen (an interest of many MIT based mathematicians who developed artificial intelligence) and a person seeking to create the best possible life for myself I delved deeper into Game Theory.
I took John Von Neumann’s original concept, tweaked it a bit, and applied it to other ideas and disciplines to create Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory (LHAGT). LHAGT is an umbrella term I use to describe thousands of life strategies, some based on mathematics and others, based on the social sciences. Many of these life strategies relate to business, politics, spirituality, competition, romance and even interactions with nonhuman players such as computers, animals, and plants. Most of the games within the model of Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory combine logical, mathematically based concepts with intuitive strategies that explore contradiction, paradox and ambiguity in decision making. The goal of LHAGT is to maximize love, joy, clarity of thought, emotional balance, personal contentment, inner wisdom, freedom, and happiness.
Though the work is always expanding and integrates new ideas among the ideas and streams of thought I have integrated into LHAGT are the following:
- Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory: A theory of intelligence that differentiates it into specific (primarily sensory) “modalities”, rather than seeing intelligence as dominated by a single general ability. Gardner chose eight abilities that he held to meet these criteria: musical–rhythmic, visual–spatial, verbal–linguistic, logical–mathematical, bodily–kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic
- Decision theory: Game Theory based models applied in economics,psychology, philosophy, mathematics, computer science, and statistics to help in identifying the values, uncertainties and other issues relevant in a given decision, its rationality, and the resulting optimal decision.
- Milton Erickson’s theories on theunconscious mind as creative and solution-generating. Integrating strategic family therapy, family systems therapy, solution focused brief therapy, and neuro-linguistic programming.
- Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Thetheory of constraints (TOC): A theory for problem solving in organization that views any manageable system as being limited in achieving more of its goals by a very small number of constraints. There is always at least one constraint, and TOC uses a focusing process to identify the constraint and restructure the rest of the organization around it.
- Robert Cialdini’s theory of influence as a tool for strategizing: This work is based on the principles of reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity.
- Virginia Satir’s Change Process Model: A psychological model effective in defining how change impacts organizations.
- Christopher Alexander’s Pattern Language: A pattern language is an attempt to express the deeper wisdom of what brings aliveness within a particular field of human endeavor, through a set of interconnected expressions arising from that wisdom. Understanding a pattern language brings a sense of wholeness, spirit, or grace, that while of varying form, is precise and empirically verifiable. Pattern language can be applied to solve basic, complex and even non-linear problems.
- Buckminster Fuller’s work in Synergetics: Synergetics is a multi-faceted system that involves geometric modeling, exploring inter-relationships in the facts of experience and the process of thinking. Synergetics endeavors to identify and understand the methods that Nature actually uses in coordinating Universe (both physically and metaphysically). Synergetics provides a method and a philosophy for problem-solving and design and therefore has applications in all areas of human endeavor.”
- George Pólya‘s Theories of Heuristic thinking and Intuition
- Collective Intelligence Theory: Shared intelligence that emerges from the collaboration, collective efforts, and competition of many individuals and appears in consensus decision making.
The Greek philosopher Socrates stated that, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Many people have never heard this quote, and if they did, it would not be of concern or of interest to them. They are perfectly content to live their lives unexamined. They eat, sleep, go to a house of worship, go to their job, watch television, play video games, marry, have kids and do what is generally viewed by society as living normal lives. They will experience ups and downs, as we all do in life, but they will survive developing strategies throughout their lives to do so. They are essentially content to live pedestrian lives and may even prosper by doing so. If I was a person inclined to envy, I might be envious of them. Living life without thinking about what “Is,” and why and how what “Is” is can be a blessing. Sadly, or fortunately, I am not wired in this way. I need to ask about truth, love, God, etc. The search for meaning is something that drives me and always has.
Ultimately Applied Game Theory has enabled me to maximize my potential and those I have come in contact with while reducing unnecessary suffering and struggling.
An depth description of the process by which Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory was developed is described in the e-book:
“Winning at the Game of Life: A Primer to Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory”
If you are one of those individuals that is always asking questions and exploring the meaning of things as you create efficient and effective strategies to survive, and even prosper- then this book is written for you.
I am currently offering a course on Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory. Learn more at www.chihealer.com