John and Alicia Nash


The societal implications of the work of scientists John Nash, Thomas Saaty and Jay Forrester:
Game Theory versus System Dynamics

Nipawin - Saturday, July 27, 2002 - by: Mario deSantis


I am really perplexed about our conventional mathematical economics. Last night, I watched the excellent and dramatic movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’ about the life of Nobel Prize winner John Nash. As I finished to watch this movie, I was wondering if Nash’s affliction of schizophrenia was worsened just because of his mathematical obsession of finding equilibrium in the mathematical area of game theory. Also, I found comforting to realize that Nash’s miraculous recovery was achieved through the miraculous love of his wife Alicia.




Game theory has been defined as thinking of thinking since as you play a game you must think of your next move which is dependent on all the previous moves of all the players and on the next future consequential thinking of all the players as well. I must say that I dislike the societal implications of conventional game theory, and in this respect, these implications can be appreciated as we watch today the TV series ‘Big Brother."




In this TV series, so many people live together in a house and they play a game whereby they decide to kick out of the house one person at a time; the winner of the game is the person who remains in the house and who hasn’t been kicked out. Now as these people play the ‘Big Brother’ game we realize how phony they are as they make and break loyalties among themselves.





Is it with the societal understanding of conventional game theory that we want to build a better society? Do we really want a society of phony people rather than a society of citizens thinking for themselves? I personally don’t appreciate having other people thinking for me, as I don’t do my thinking for others.

This very morning I received an e-mail from the business Expert Choice and as they advertised their ‘decision making software’ it was gratifying to have a reinforced understanding that we can make societal and business decisions using both our individual thinking and our individual emotions.

Expert Choice software is based on Dr. Thomas Saaty’s work on the mathematical Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP). The dynamic understanding of Saaty’s work converges with Dr. Jay Forrester’s work on System Dynamics where any system can be conceptualized in terms of flows and sinks. The beauty of System Dynamics is that any system can be understood by anybody; and in fact, it is a matter of just thinking and playing in terms of water flowing from taps and water sinking into tubs.

I don’t subscribe to the societal implications of conventional game theory as this theory is based on winning at the expense of other people, that is plutocracy, democracy for the few and privileged. Instead, I subscribe to the societal implications of System Dynamics where everybody wins, individually and collectively, that is democracy for all.
  A Brilliant Madness: The Story of Nobel Prize Winning Mathematician John Nash. PBS
  Biography of John Nash
  Big Brother 3. CBS
  Expert Choice. The Analytic Hierarchy Process.
  MIT System Dynamics Group The System Dynamics Group was founded in the early 1960s by Professor Jay W. Forrester at MIT. At that time, he began applying what he had learned about systems during his work in electrical engineering to every day kinds of systems. What makes using system dynamics different from other approaches to studying complex systems is the use of feedback loops. Professor John D. Sterman is the director of the System Dynamics Group.