Halting Games

The halting problem

Turing, ^^Halting_problem^^

A programme to determine whether an arbitrary algorithm will eventually halt in a finite time

Finite and infinite games

There are at least two kinds of games: finite and infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play. Finite games are those instrumental activities - from sports to politics to wars - in which the participants obey rules, recognize boundaries and announce winners and losers. The infinite game - there is only one - includes any authentic interaction, from touching to culture, that changes rules, plays with boundaries and exists solely for the purpose of continuing the game. A finite player seeks power; the infinite one displays self-sufficient strength. Finite games are theatrical, necessitating an audience; infinite ones are dramatic, involving participants...


In literature

re: finite games being "theatrical", requiring "audiences" vs infinite games being "dramatic", involving "participants"

tl;dr: novel ~ finite game, epic ~ infinite game

The differences between Updike’s views and mine have an important bearing on some of the aspects of the Anthropocene that I have been addressing here, so it is best to let him speak for himself. Here is what he had to say about Cities of Salt: ‘It is unfortunate, given the epic potential of his topic, that Mr. Munif . . . appears to be . . . insufficiently Westernized to produce a narrative that feels much like what we call a novel. His voice is that of a campfire explainer; his characters are rarely fixed in our minds by a face or a manner or a developed motivation; no central figure develops enough reality to attract our sympathetic interest; and, this being the first third of a trilogy, what intelligible conflicts and possibilities do emerge remain serenely unresolved. There is almost none of that sense of individual moral adventure—of the evolving individual in varied and roughly equal battle with a world of circumstance—which since “Don Quixote” and “Robinson Crusoe,” has distinguished the novel from the fable and the chronicle; “Cities of Salt” is concerned, instead, with men in the aggregate.’


In other words, what is banished from the territory of the novel is precisely the collective.

great-derangementch. 17

orality-literacy #novel

Games vs Play


Varoufakis as Greek Finance Minister

tl;dr: Varoufakis: Game theory no use in irl negotiations over Greek economy, even though I taught it, because rules have to be changed

Game theorists analyze negotiations as if they were split-a-pie games involving selfish players. Because I spent many years during my previous life as an academic researching game theory, some commentators rushed to presume that as Greece’s new finance minister I was busily devising bluffs, stratagems and outside options, struggling to improve upon a weak hand.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

If anything, my game-theory background convinced me that it would be pure folly to think of the current deliberations between Greece and our partners as a bargaining game to be won or lost via bluffs and tactical subterfuge. The trouble with game theory, as I used to tell my students, is that it takes for granted the players’ motives. In poker or blackjack this assumption is unproblematic. But in the current deliberations between our European partners and Greece’s new government, the whole point is to forge new motives. To fashion a fresh mind-set that transcends national divides, dissolves the creditor-debtor distinction in favor of a pan-European perspective, and places the common European good above petty politics, dogma that proves toxic if universalized, and an us-versus-them mind-set.

NYTimes Opinion | Yanis Varoufakis: No Time for Games in Europe


utopia-of-rules Graeber, David. 2015. The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy. Melville House Publishing. ↩︎ 1

great-derangement Ghosh, Amitav. The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. ↩︎ 1

fin-inf-games Carse, James P. Finite and Infinite Games. ↩︎ 1