Game Theory and the Golden Rule

Eugen Leitl eugen at
Tue Dec 2 07:07:04 PST 2003

On Tue, Dec 02, 2003 at 08:36:37AM -0600, jbone @ place. org wrote:

> Let me qualify and expand on my statement a bit...  first, the 
> reasoning I eluded to is helped by viewing the game series as infinite; 

Between very asymmetric players, no worthwhile interactions are 
possible. Interaction (pseudo, since one-way) iteration only occurs the few first rounds,
as lesser players are rapidly eliminated by side effects (you need to be 
actually actively friendly for that not to occur).

It is basically industrial pollution and urbanization on steroids,
only here on the receiving end, instead of dishing out as
we are wont.

> once you look at the series that way, there are only two 
> possibilities:  playing the series as net zero-sum (in which case net 

There's no practical difference betwen 10^-6 and zero in actual life.
In fact if lesser players occupy valuable real estate getting
rid of them has actually a large positivie payoff; think back
to America's native population. Only in this case is it is a
lot like grass in space to become a parking lot. Of what concerns
are grass' to us? Its ass is grass, pass the concrete.

In case of posthumanity, the valuable real estate is planetary surface
(you need that resource for large-scale egress into space). If you
denaturate that habitat by side effect (let's say, the atmosphere
is in the way, and they remove it via explosive ablation) you just

> payoff is zero) and playing the series as net positive-sum (in which 
> case the net payoff is infinite.)  Differences in effective 
> intelligence show up as mismatches in the rate at which the game can be 
> played.  Assuming a willingness to play the game, this does *not* 
> actually effect the payoff matrix at all.

It's nice math, but I don't see how this fits the projected reality.
> Now, one might ask why the more intelligent being might want to play 
> the game in the first place.  And that's a valid question, one for 
> which we can probably have no good answer.  But as long as the being 
> wants to play the game and views the series as potentially infinite, 
> then it seems that playing for net positive is the preferable strategy.

Maybe, but a game where a player isn't even aware there's another
is not really a game.
> So the qualification here is that, I suppose, there are really three 
> possibilities:  either the being in question is going to treat the 
> series of interactions as potentially infinite, with net positive 

Let's say we get species radiation, and we have really dumb critters.
They don't give a damn about evaluating interactions, because they're
about as smart as a dust mite, or maybe a flea.

Sure you'll get gods walking around, but of what concern are mites
and fleas feeding on pre-life to them? 

> cooperative strategy;  or they're going to view the game as finite, in 
> which case we get a Terminator-like scenario (and, well, too bad --- 

The Terminator-like scenario is completely laughable; it implies 
humanity might win. There wouldn't even be the ghost of a chance.

> probably unavoidable under some assumptions);  or (worst) the being is 
> capricious and plays for perverse amusement in iteratively winning 
> net-zero interactions.  Given that either of the latter two are 
> probably unavoidable under various assumptions in any interaction 
> between vastly different intelligences, I see no point in losing sleep 

I don't; it is usually to accept what you cannot change anyway.
All this is completely academic at this point anyway, so why
spend a lot of time over it? Futorology tends to make rather hilarious
reading in the retrospect, and if it isn't, you only die once.

> over them;  OTOH, it seems to me that most intelligent beings will see 
> that even the occasional net-positive interaction is a boon, and will 
> treat the series and infinite and play for net-positive.

Your words in a god's ear.

-- Eugen* Leitl <a href="">leitl</a>
ICBM: 48.07078, 11.61144  
8B29F6BE: 099D 78BA 2FD3 B014 B08A  7779 75B0 2443 8B29 F6BE
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