Tag Archives | Game Theory

Why A Genocidal Attack On Earth By Extraterrestrials Is Unlikely

genocidal attack on earthIt may seem as if the world is going to pieces, but here’s some heartening news from Parapolitical, explaining why it would make little sense for an advanced alien race (assuming one exists) to attack humanity:

“MAD with Aliens? Interstellar Deterrence and its Implications” by Janne Korhonen of Finland’s Aalto University, published in the current edition of Acta Astronautica – the journal of the International Academy of Astronautics – explores motivating and demotivating factors for an alien assault against the Earth (or anyplace) and concludes that the conditions of interstellar warfare make such an adventure “too hazardous for an attacker.”

Korhonen identifies key concerns that could preclude a potentially aggressive civilization from choosing to launch a genocidal attack on humanity. “If the light speed limit holds,” Korhonen posits, “all intelligence gathered before an attack is launched will be very much out-of-date by the time the attacking force arrives to the target system.”

Another issue is the inherent inefficiency of attacks with less than one-hundred-percent lethality: “An average growth rate of 1% could repopulate the Earth to seven billion people from only five thousand survivors in little more than 700 years.

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Westerners vs. the World: We Are the Weird Ones

Economics Experiments

Joseph Heinrich conducts behavioural economics experiments in the countryside of southern Chile.

Adam McDowell writes in the National Post

The Ultimatum Game works like this: You are given $100 and asked to share it with someone else. You can offer that person any amount and if he accepts the offer, you each get to keep your share. If he rejects your offer, you both walk away empty-handed.

How much would you offer? If it’s close to half the loot, you’re a typical North American. Studies show educated Americans will make an average offer of $48, whether in the interest of fairness or in the knowledge that too low an offer to their counterpart could be rejected as unfair. If you’re on the other side of the table, you’re likely to reject offers right up to $40.

It seems most of humanity would play the game differently. Joseph Henrich of the University of British Columbia took the Ultimatum Game into the Peruvian Amazon as part of his work on understanding human co-operation in the mid-1990s and found that the Machiguenga considered the idea of offering half your money downright weird — and rejecting an insultingly low offer even weirder.

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