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The Predictioneer's Game: Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future Paperback – October 12, 2010
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Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is a master of game theory, which is a fancy label for a simple idea: People compete, and they always do what they think is in their own best interest. Bueno de Mesquita uses game theory and its insights into human behavior to predict and even engineer political, financial, and personal events. His forecasts, which have been employed by everyone from the CIA to major business firms, have an amazing 90 percent accuracy rate, and in this dazzling and revelatory book he shares his startling methods and lets you play along in a range of high-stakes negotiations and conflicts.
Revealing the origins of game theory and the advances made by John Nash, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist perhaps best known from A Beautiful Mind, Bueno de Mesquita details the controversial and cold-eyed system of calculation that he has since created, one that allows individuals to think strategically about what their opponents want, how much they want it, and how they might react to every move. From there, Bueno de Mesquita games such events as the North Korean disarmament talks and the Middle East peace process and recalls, among other cases, how he correctly predicted which corporate clients of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm were most likely engaged in fraudulent activity (hint: one of them started with an E). And looking as ever to the future, Bueno de Mesquita also demonstrates how game theory can provide successful strategies to combat both global warming (instead of relying on empty regulations, make nations compete in technology) and terror (figure out exactly how much U.S. aid will make Pakistan fight the Taliban).
But as Bueno de Mesquita shows, game theory isn’t just for saving the world. It can help you in your own life, whether you want to succeed in a lawsuit (lawyers argue too much the merits of the case and question too little the motives of their opponents), elect the CEO of your company (change the system of voting on your board to be more advantageous to your candidate), or even buy a car (start by knowing exactly what you want, call every dealer in a fifty-mile radius, and negotiate only over the phone).
Savvy, provocative, and shockingly effective, The Predictioneer’s Game will change how you understand the world and manage your future. Life’s a game, and how you play is whether you win or lose.
Amazon Exclusive: Bruce Bueno de Mesquita on The Predictioneer's Game
Knowing what will happen around the world can be awfully useful. Forewarned, after all, is forearmed, whether the questions of the day are about business, national security, or our day-to-day lives. The Predictioneer’s Game provides a reliable way to anticipate the future, one you can experiment by using the online version of the game’s program on my website. Suppose, for instance, you want to work out likely future developments in Iran. You can build a data set and test it just as I have done.
We all know that Iran’s Ayatollahs faced a pretty stiff challenge following that country’s June presidential election. As I predicted in February 2009. the Qum clerics, sometimes called the Quietists, are quiet no more and Iran’s Supreme Leader is facing the first real political challenge since Iran’s 1979 revolution. Iran is in for more challenging times in the months to come. You might wonder, what is likely to happen to relations between Iran’s and Iraq’s Shia-dominated governments now that the U.S. is withdrawing most of its forces from Iraq? How will the evolving relations between Iran and Iraq shape the interests of the United States in the region? These are some of the questions I try to answer in The Predictioneer’s Game.
I conclude that if the U.S. fully withdraws, then Iran and Iraq will form a strategic partnership and Iran might even intervene militarily on behalf of Iraq’s Shia government to put down a rising political threat from the pro-Baathist, anti-American, Sunni Vice President of Iraq, Tariq al-Hashimi. Hashimi’s power is predicted to increase markedly while Prime Minister Maliki’s declines if President Obama decides not to maintain 50,000 American troops in Iraq. If, however, he chooses to keep 50,000 or more troops in Iraq after August 2010, then Iran and Iraq will not forge a strategic alliance, Hashimi’s growing power will be contained, and Maliki will remain in charge. And in Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei’s power will continue to decline while the military, the moneyed interests and the Qum clerics will become the backbone of a more moderate, more pragmatic Iranian regime.
Predicting the future--whether you are concerned about Iran or about how best to settle a family crisis--is not all that mysterious. If people do what they think is best for themselves--and who doesn’t--then, with game theory’s help, we can anticipate what they will do. Working out other people’s incentives means also working out how altering their costs or benefits can be used to change their behavior and that, after all, is the essence of predictioneering.--Bruce Bueno de Mesquita--This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Mesquita (The Strategy of Campaigning) purports to show how we can predict... and engineer the future with applied game theory in this provocative tutorial. Mesquita has spent 30 years refining his approach to the science of predictioneering, and claims a 90% accuracy rate for his mathematical model that predicts choices based on the self-interest of decision makers. Although he argues that accurate prediction relies on science, he cannot escape the reality that the numbers in his model are based on human, i.e., fallible, assumptions and estimates. The author admits to a few mistakes—he predicted that former first lady Hillary Clinton's health-care reform would become law—but blames any missteps on unforeseen events and uses his model to boldly predict that President Obama is unlikely to quash the terrorist influence in Pakistan and that global warming will prove immune to government prescriptions but will produce its own solutions. Mesquita claims perhaps too much for his game theory model, but his cogently argued and fascinating brief will appeal to anyone interested in complex national-security issues. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is sort of how I feel after reading The Predictioneer's Game. The author has a few good ideas here and there, but I don't think it's really worth buying and reading. After all, there's an opportunity cost as well - when you're reading this book, you could be reading a much better book and learning a lot more.
The author seems fairly intelligent and has some good ideas on how to approach problems. But 3 things kept bothering me as I read this: 1) the incessant self promotion (some colleagues say I'm magical, I've never made a bad prediction, my consulting team is always being called on to help make decisions..etc, 2) the frequent mentions of this magical model that is never fully explained, and 3) the feeling I got as I continued to read that half of this was BS.
On the one hand he always refers to the model and only going by what the model says, but in example after example he gives mostly common sense reasoning behind his predictions and what he advised. It's like someone who claims to have psychic ability, yet in all of their predictions they give common sense reasons for why something is going to happen.
I think if you took away all the self promotion crap, and references to the suspect model, you might actual have a decent book with some interesting ideas. Then again that book would probably only be about 25 pages long.
Bottom line: this book comes off as a sales pitch to hire the author as a consultant. He gives you enough information to impress you and gain his trust, but not enough to warrant reading a book. I'm sure he's a smart guy, but I'm not convinced in the model and I really didn't take away much from the book either.
It is entertaining but you won't become knowledgeable in game theory or an expert predictioner from reading it. The book leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn't properly explain game theory or how to deal with uncertainty and is mostly about himself with claims that the claims are substantiated, but are not.
If you are only interested in examples and don't want to go deeply into the subject to learn how, maybe this book is for you. Some people like it a lot, and some see its flaws, so check out other reviews.
Essentially (behind the missing explanations) he has parameters for
1. the influence of key players,
2. The relevant importance of those players to the outcome, called salience
3. The probability that that influence and importance will be effective towards or against a particular outcome
4. The rules of the game (eg voting power)
5 Iterations that may occur which will affect who has what changed influence or importance
These have different roles or relevance to different problems and may not all be present in a given situation..
There are other books whose reviews you should check to see if they are more suitable' ....
Depending on your needs they are
3.5* game theory -non-technical introduction
4.5* the signal and the noise
3.5* Rock, paper scissors
4* What money can't buy
4.5* Naked statistics
5.5* A practical guide to policy analysis
What he does and how he does it has been something of a mystery to me until I read this book, and he gives an excellent walk through of his techniques. It helped me focus on how to better hone my predictions about social and political issues, and it can help you too.
The only problems that I had with the book was that not enough attention was given to the ins and outs of his computer runs. Probability and regression analysis are central to his methods, and the average reader could probably benefit by getting a walk through. Also, the last chapter of the book appears to be irrelevant to me, as he does an autopsy on the Roman Empire instead of tackling more gripping current issues.
These shortcomings are small in comparison to what you'll be able to get out of this book. I strongly recommend it.