Prediction: How to See and Shape the Future with Game Theory by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
|Prediction: How to See and Shape the Future with Game Theory by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita|
|Category: Popular Science|
|Reviewer: Chris Bradshaw|
|Summary: Can game theory be used to predict and shape future political and economic events? Bruce de Mesquita thinks so and he'll even help you buy a new car on the cheap in this entertaining look at a complex subject.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: July 2010|
As a rather mediocre recreational poker player I've often been intrigued by game theory. The academic discipline used by politicos during the chilliest days of the Cold War has been utilised by the more mathematically minded players on the professional circuit to improve profitability. Rather than poker, author and politics professor Bruce Bueno de Mesquita uses game theory models to forecast political, economic and international security scenarios and in Prediction he shares some of his secrets.
Put very simply game theory is all about people doing what they do because they believe it to be in their best interest, paying attention to how others might react if they choose to do one thing or another. Sounds obvious. De Mesquita uses this simple sounding idea, estimating carefully people's wants and beliefs anyone can make a reliable forecast of what each and every one of them will do. And if you can predict what will happen then you can also predict what will happen if you alter what people believe about a situation. That in essence is De Mesquita's book in a nutshell, using game theory as a way to predict and shape behaviour.
De Mesquita starts things off simply enough for the lay reader, giving a number of examples of game theory in practice in everyday scenarios. Anyone thinking of buy a new car should pay particular attention. After going through the basics, De Mesquita then goes on to consider how his model can be used to predict behaviour, especially in the economic and political field.
Corporate malpractice, nuclear disarmament in North Korea and the middle east peace process all come under scrutiny with the author offering up some surprising findings. As an example he considers the best hope for a solution to the Arab Israeli conflict is a special tourism tax. Historical events are also put under the game theory microscope with equally surprising results. De Mesquita suggests that World War One could have been prevented by a few simple British naval manoeuvres and Hitler's rise to power could have been stopped had there been a small shift in policy by Germany's main political parties. Of course there is no way of proving the validity of his backdated predictions, perhaps of more interest are his thoughts on Iran's nuclear ambitions and the future state of Iraq. His forecasts don't make for particularly pleasant reading but they will certainly make for intriguing reading five years from now.
So is De Mesquita a Nostradamus for the 21st century? His supposed success rates of over 90% would suggest so but that supposed success rate is what raises scepticism. It all sounds too good to be true and maybe it is. Prediction has certainly caused plenty of debate amongst the academic community (see here for more) but regardless of just how accurate De Mesquita's claims are it's certainly a very interesting and entertaining read. Prediction may do nothing to improve my poker game but it's a good primer on a complex subject and raises many interesting questions.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness by Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein
You can read more book reviews or buy Prediction: How to See and Shape the Future with Game Theory by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Prediction: How to See and Shape the Future with Game Theory by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita at Amazon.com.
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