The Predictioneer's Game
The Predictioneer's Game
Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future
Random House, Hardcover, 9781400067879, 272pp.
Publication Date: September 29, 2009
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.
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. A specialist in policy forecasting, political economy, and international security policy, he received his doctorate in political science from the University of Michigan. Bueno de Mesquita is the author of fifteen books and more than one hundred articles as well as numerous pieces in major newspapers and magazines. He has appeared on all the major networks as well as television broadcasts in Brazil, China, Korea, the Netherlands, and elsewhere. His previous book, The Strategy of Campaigning, was co-authored with Kiron Skinner, Serhiy Kudelia, and Condoleeza Rice. He lives in San Francisco and New York City.
“Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has demonstrated the power of using game theory and related assumptions of rational and self-seeking behavior in predicting the outcome of important political and legal processes. No one will fail to appreciate and learn from this well-written and always interesting account of his procedures.”—Kenneth Arrow, Nobel Prize-winning economist; Professor Emeritus, Stanford University
“The Predictioneer's Game teaches us that we can predict how a conflict may be resolved if we carefully consider the incentives for all parties in the conflict. In an extraordinary range of applications, from ancient history to tomorrow's headlines, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita demonstrates the power of the game-theoretic approach.”—Roger B. Myerson, Nobel Prize-winning economist; Professor, University of Chicago
“Organized thought applied to problems can illuminate and help solve them. This easy and enjoyable read is, in many ways, a how-to book for that very purpose.”—George P. Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of State
"Shakespeare said that poetry was giving ‘to airy nothingness a local habitation and a name.’ Game theory has never been airy nothingness, but to those who through lack of exposure or (like me) the wrong kind of exposure years ago may have had such thoughts, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita follows Shakespeare's path and opens a new world. In Bueno de Mesquita's hands, game theory becomes a fascinating tool for understanding everything from how to steer the selection of a CEO to great swaths of both the past and future. Don't miss this one if you care about understanding how decisions are made–pretty much all decisions."—R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence; Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution
“Bueno de Mesquita has successfully turned the art of decision-making into a science - and enriched our understanding of politics and business in the process. Dispensing with clichés about rationality and irrationality, he explains how to predict behavior based on the relevant players’ interests and contexts. Bueno de Mesquita says he does not have a crystal ball, but this book gives readers the ingredients to build their own.”—Parag Khanna, author of The Second World: How Emerging Powers are Redefining Global Competition in the 21st Century
“Fruitful reading that will make it difficult to look at the world through quite the same eyes as in one’s virginal, pre—game theory days.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Provocative. . . . [this] cogently argued and fascinating brief will appeal to anyone interested in complex national-security issues.”—Publishers Weekly
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita knows what will happen in the future on a host of critical questions. Will Iran develop a nuclear bomb? Will North Korea? What major companies or economies will merge, grow or fall apart? De Mesquita has been predicting the future for 30 years — to a reported 90 percent success rate. Host Scott Simon talks to him about the new book that reveals how his secret: The Predictioneer's Game: Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future. More at NPR.org
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