Summary of The Predictioneer's Game

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Game theorist Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has a successful record of applying game theory to predicting the outcome of critical foreign policy issues. Among his other accomplishments, the author achieved a 90% accuracy rate in forecasts for the U.S. government, often about the future direction of other countries. In this book, he applies game-theory analyses to complex questions about such public policy issues as the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea, the potential for Iraq to ally with Iran, and the risk of a major war between Israelis and Palestinians. To illustrate the numerical framework of games, Bueno de Mesquita also features examples that model mundane behavior, such as shopping for cars or choosing which movie to watch. Though the book is thick with passages that focus on foreign policy, getAbstract nonetheless recommends it to executives who want to learn how experts use game theory to predict and engineer the future.

About the Author

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is the Julius Silver Professor of Politics at New York University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.



Selfishness and Foresight in Game Theory

Selfishness is the key presumption in game theory, and for good reason. People reliably defend their self-interest; true altruism is an anomaly. This presumption of self-centeredness guides the design of mathematical games that reveal probable outcomes from a wide range of circumstances. To predict the outcome of an issue, begin by assessing the motives of the “stakeholders,” the individuals who have an interest in the result, and consider how important the issue is to each person. Knowing how stakeholders will respond to certain facts and beliefs is the first step in accurately predicting their future behavior.

Shaping the future, of course, is more valuable than just predicting it. One effective way to engineer results is to present information that alters other people’s beliefs. A “predictioneer” uses such tools from the field of game theory to predict and engineer the future. “Predictioneering” is useful in all sorts of tasks, from purchasing a car to acquiring a company, addressing environmental problems or studying terrorist threats. The same steps apply, regardless of the situation: After determining the needs of all ...

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