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Book Review: Game Theory

Game Theory: A Very Short Introduction

Game Theory
A very short introduction

Ken Binmore

concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects–from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, and Literary Theory to History. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume provides trenchant and provocative–yet always
balanced and complete–discussions of the central issues in a given topic. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how it has developed and influenced society.

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Why I read this book?

Once you start going down the crypto rabbit hole, it doesn't take long before you start seeing references to the Game Theory, which is a branch of applied mathematics that studies strategic situations in which individuals or organisations choose various actions in an attempt to maximise their returns.

As someone who has had no formal education in any advanced mathematics and if I'm perfectly honest the last time I really touched any mathematics at all in anger was in college, back in the mid 90's. I have very little, if any foundational knowledge on this subject.

Bitcoin: Hard Money You Can't F*ck With: Why bitcoin will be the next global reserve currency , provides a very brief and high level overview of Game Theory and its implementation. I was looking for a resource to further explain the concepts of Game Theory without getting lost in the details of the Mathematics.

The foundational concepts of Game theory, are found in strategy games like Chess. Any move you make in the game will have to be countered by your opponent. The strategic decisions that you and your opponent make will ultimately determine who wins and who loses the game.

An example of how Game Theory has come to affect our civilisation as a whole, can be illustrated by the advent of the Gutenberg press. Up until the introduction of the Gutenberg Press, the Church and State controlled how information was shared with the world. Only the Church and people in positions of power or education could read, write and spread whatever information they wanted, often only for their benefit.

There were limited copies of important documents such as the Bible. Any knowledge about the world mostly derived from what a local figurehead to read or shared in church or school. Most people were not able to read or write, so they had to depend on others to gain their knowledge of the world.

What communities and people were allowed to learn, believe and how to live their lives was controlled by the Church. As long as the State and the Church controlled what the people were taught they could control and influence the people's ideologies.

When Johannes Gutenberg invented his press, he essentially moved a chess piece to checkmate the Church. The invention of the press, enabled the sharing of information and thus enabling many more people to learn to read and write and the sharing of information rapidly fell out of the control of Church and state. This giving rise the Renaissance .

Bitcoin and Blockchain technology, is and will continue to have a similar effect, by separating the State from money. Bitcoin will become a store of value and medium of exchange for the whole world.


Hard Money You Can't F*ck With:

Why bitcoin will be the next global reserve currency

Jason A Williams

Bitcoin is hard money you can’t f*ck with.No-one controls it. No governments, no companies, no central banks, no money printing. It’s a revolution as big as the internet. And it’s never been hacked.

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What I liked about this book

I admittedly listened to the Game Theory: A very short introduction audio book using my Audible account, so had to repeat a few of the chapters several times before I completely understood the content. However, this may be down to me having no previous grounding on the subject at all, I did find on several occasions that the authors explanations are terse or convoluted, but after a few repeats they made more sense.

I have learned that Game Theory is a rather difficult subject to comprehend and although I accept the author tried his best to simplify it for beginners, it's quite possible that I still didn't get it. However, I was still able to get a deeper insight into the subject from this book and further direction on what to explore next.

The book attempts to explain the various concepts comprising Game Theory without overloading on the mathematics - wherever possible illustrations are used giving real-world examples to an idea or concept. The history of where the various theories came from both good and bad of where the theories have been used.

I would have to admit, its probably not the best introductory book out there, but even though I had to put in quite a bit of effort on this book, I have been able to derive value from it and learn why Game Theory is seen as important and significant relevance in modern society.

Binmore reveals how game theory, as well as providing deep scientific and philosophical insights, can be valuable and enjoyably applied to everyday life - from social gatherings to ethical decision-making to gambling.

The book does cover, the basics of Game Theory and provides some relevant concepts and provides examples and explanations from throughout history where Game Theory has come into play.

Why I recommend this book

This book definitely piqued my interest on the topic of Game Theory, and so while I didn't quite get it all - I can say it accomplished its mission.

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Gary Woodfine
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