What are the systems upon which we depend to live? Those readers who are keen to know the real answer to this question are the kind of people who believe that they would have a better life if they knew how such systems work and who are aware that their lives under the current systems are not necessarily easy. Game Theory is an Art is a philosophy book intended for such readers.
This book deals with various issues. It helps readers train their ability to see the truth of the social system through examining such phenomena as economic prosperity, totalitarianism, a surveillance society, poverty relief, bubbles, taboos, an information society, harassment, and terrors. These phenomena have a common point. These are all difficult problems, and randomly digging into details would create more confusion than helping us get to the bottom of the problems. Thus, we must keep a cautious distance and set down basic guidelines to follow in investing problems. The presence of such guiding principles helps keep our investigation on course and enables us to get to the essence of things.
Such guidelines must constitute a social theory that is theoretically consistent and concisely describes how social systems work. Developing guidelines is a creative task similar to how artists create their works. We must come up with designs for social systems just as how artists come up with ideas for superb works.
Now, how should we undertake such an artistic and creative act of working out designs for social systems? This book explains how we should get on with this task. This can be achieved ideally by using a branch of mathematics called “game theory.”
Game theory describes a hidden social system as a simple and coherent mathematical process. This mathematical process, a hypothetical model describing how a social system could work, serves as a guiding principle to follow in conducting specific surveys or solving specific problems. The true value of game theory lies in the creative and artistic act of developing a hypothetical model in-between our daily lives and our imaginations.
Game theory as such can be the most powerful approach among various modern art attempts to understand the relationship between society and art. Hypothetical models using game theory are mathematical and thus can freely be compared with one another. This is what makes game theory so powerful.
For instance, bubbles and harassment are phenomena from two different dimensions but can be explained by the same hypothetical model. Likewise, totalitarianism and poverty relief, despite belonging to two different dimensions, can explained by a hypothetical model based on the same idea.
The magic of game theory, which makes it possible to compare totally different social problems, is encouraging for those readers continuing the quest for a better life. The magic clears our vision to see how our society and daily lives run and makes us feel stable. It supports our honest desire to live a life without cheating and lies even as we live in a very difficult society.
This book is of a different flavor than conventional textbooks on game theory. Conventional textbooks teach the mathematics of game theory. In contrast, this book teaches, not mathematics, but “spoken language” for thinking society using game theory. Thus, a detailed understanding of mathematics or technical concepts is not much required to read this book.
(Written by Hitoshi Matsushima, Professor of Graduate School of Economics / 2018)