Game Theory 1: What Would [Massively Intelligent Persona] Do?

WWJD, or "What Would Jesus Do?" was a welcome Christian riff about 15 years ago.  I looked it up in part because of the upsetting crisis of Boko Haram near the eastern Nigerian border, very close to the part of Cameroon I taught school in the 1980s.

The phrase "What would Jesus do?" (often abbreviated to WWJD) became popular in the United States in the 1990s and as a personal motto for adherents of Evangelical Christianity who used the phrase as a reminder of their belief in a moral imperative to act in a manner that would demonstrate the love of Jesus through the actions of the adherents.
What would Jesus do, or Muhammed do, about lunatic fringes in religions established in their names?
"Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy" - Aristotle
Boko is a Hausa word, and Hausa is a society which was massively splintered by Western lines-drawn-on-maps in Africa.  England and France drew Vertical lines (Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon west-east borders), whereas the African societies tended to follow latitudes associated with climates.   The band of Sahel and Sahara stretches longitudinally north of the forests and mountains to the south, and it's a big "Bantu-v-Islam" historical and geographical context ignored by historical cartographers. Of course, with no lines at all, the ports and trade would still have drawn economic maps and boundaries, and either way, north is the loser.

In Cameroon, I lived in the Adamawa plains, southern reach of the Hausa and Fulani cultures.   In my village there was a military camp and a lot of Camerounian cultural mashup with Bantu and Fulani, Christian and Muslim, Francophone and Anglophone.  Muslims were at the top of the pecking order in their lattitude... but international trade and offshore oil brings all the economic growth to the ports in the south.

So the Hausa and Fulani see growing and growing secular governments, run increasingly by Bantu or Christian or secular or military governments with loyalties in the south.

The Nigerian military announced late Thursday that it had killed eleven Boko Haram militants and several others captured in attacks near the Cameroonian border.
do I have to attribute sources of maps?
Living in north-central Cameroon, back in the 1980s, only about 5% of my students were young women.  It was largely a bias attributed by the limited number of seats at desks.   It was almost as hard to get your kids into secondary school as it is to get American kids into college.  There were not enough schools or teachers in the rural parts of Africa.  If you thought your daughter might be less attractive to local farmers if she were educated - a common fear - it made less sense to fight your daughter's way in than to jump through the same hoops for your sons.

The area was mostly Muslim, all the high offices like sous-prefet (mayor) were filled by robe wearing al  hadjis.  And we did notice that while young women were under-represented everywhere in Cameroon, it did seem more true in the north.

But there was no evidence of anything remotely "al qaeda-y" in the Islamic areas of Cameroon.  In fact, American female Peace Corps volunteers were steered to Muslim parts of Cameroun, where the men had a better reputation for treating women civilly.  The "Muslim North", areas governed by Hausa and Fulani civil government, was considered more law-abiding (though no less corrupt politically).

It's jarring in this context to imagine a bunch of wannabe warlords burning down schools and kidnapping teenage girls to "sell them in the market".  Frankly, it comes across as some Hollywood movie producer's idea of Muslims in Africa, some kind of attempt to mash-up scenery in Africa with plot generators like Bin Laden.

But this is not Hollywood, Boko Haram in fact got its name on the front page by doing exactly this, embarrassing sub-Sarahan Africa and followers of the Prophet Muhammed almost equally.

WWJD?  Jesus criticized the Pharisees and Romans,  but he criticized their power, their Bullyboy behavior, not their belief systems.  He emphasized the highest moral authority does not come from power, from money, or the sword.

My initial reaction to the Boko Haram news was to try to start a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10M for public schools in northern Africa.  If Boko Haram's goal is to have fewer girls attend school by intimidating 100 families for every family kidnapped - and I assume that has to be the game - then we perceive it as such and do the opposite.

The alternative is that Boko Haram is actually going to try to scale this and physically kidnap every girl in Nigeria who attends school, which seems ludicrous, and wouldn't support a public video announcing the shocking intent.  If the pricks really want to make money off of selling young women $12 apiece in semi-lawless parts of Africa, they'd do better taking them one at a time.  I heard an estimate on NPR talk program that tens of thousands of kids - human trafficking's main course - were traded in Nigeria every year.  Holding a public shout-a-thon on badly filmed youtube posts seems a ham-handed way to make money.   Better off hiring this Florida "Cuban Gynecologist Car Salesman" to produce their next flic.

I then thought about how monetary donations do in Africa.  BTDT.  Raise $10M to go after Kony or Boka Haram, donate the money to some smiling African authority figure who promises to spend it on women's education, and most of the benefit is likely to be A) on the consciences of Western donors whose outrage has been released, and B) African bureaucrats and, yes, C) car salesmen.    At the school I worked at in Ngaoundal, Cameroun, it was an open secret that the school principal took money for the cash strapped school and bought himself a car with it.

Donation economies suck.  That's why I decided to help Africans and other emerging markets by doing business with their nerds and geeks, labelling it "Fair Trade Recycling" as a defensive position against the Ayatollahs of E-Waste.

This is "interactive decision theory", what Boko Haram's decision does to my decisions to donate money, and how my decisions to donate money will trigger other peoples decisions. It is called "Interactive Decision Theory" or more commonly "Game Theory", and it's what political science geeks like me do.  Per Wikipedia:

Game theory is a study of strategic decision making. Specifically, it is "the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers".[1] An alternative term suggested "as a more descriptive name for the discipline" is interactive decision theory.[2] Game theory is mainly used in economics, political science, and psychology, as well as logic and biology...
Modern game theory began with the idea regarding the existence of mixed-strategy equilibria in two-person zero-sum games and its proof by John von Neumann. Von Neumann's original proof used Brouwer fixed-point theoremon continuous mappings into compact convex sets, which became a standard method in game theory and mathematical economics. [2014.05.10]

The first mathematical "decision predicting" models focused on "zero-sum" games, decisions between person X and person Y, where any gains by X were lost by Y.  Later, it was developed into more complex multi-decision maker models, which incorporated the (loosely attributed to Arabic) proverb "The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend" TEOMEIMF

Here is where my philosophy has really evolved over the past 10 years.  I give greater weight to the cognitive limits of our decisions.   If I'm 90% sure of something, I have no idea how huge or complex the 10% of the missing information is... it's a small chance in my sphere of knowledge, but what do I know?  We could after all cure global warming / climate change in an instant just to see some volcano erupt and send the earth into an ice age.  Ultimate consequences are not "ends" (as my Carleton essay for David Sipfle demonstrated, with essay title misspelling "Categorical Imperetive".  My "ends" was to be a philosophy major, but that essay meant the end of my career in the Philosophy department).  But the fact they are not cuts both ways, the derivative our our best intentions is only our intent.
"He who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation." -Machiavelli
If Al Qaeda and Boko Haram want to make this about belief, let's climb into our western beliefs and wear them like cowboy boots into Africa's OK Coral.

"Uncertainty" principles and "butterfly theory" apply to the entire universe of decision theory, but in game theory and polisci, human responses are more predictable.  Psychologist Steve Pinker of Harvard and my business marketing classes at BU enlightened me about greed and fear, evolved instincts to nurture and to survive, and how they commonly play on most people, and how most of us are actually wandering around bumping into one another completely distracted by our parents illness, our kids tuition, or mean email sent by a jerk boss yesterday morning, or some accusation that we've cherry picked solid waste district laptops (bs*!).

However I still faithfully believe in a Higher Truth, than our daily instincts and self interests.  My time with the New Testament and Plato and Bhagavad Gita and Taoism and Trungpa's "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism" set me on a fateful course of beliefs I refuse to believe I will ever be free of.

I climb towards the light of the Higher Truth, as eager to believe in either God or nurture or environment or innate DNA or something that hasn't been coined or discovered yet.  Like an ant crawling across the pages of a book, I don't delude myself that I will read it or know it, but I recognize it's a book and its my limitations to comprehend it, not the absence of the book, that is the barrier.

In that way, too, we can understand decisions made in the apparently denomic beliefs in holiness by boka haram.

I had a Jewish girlfriend in Carleton College one year, and was concerned about her cynicism to higher powers and faith (because I loved her and was puzzling through long term commitments).  I adored her generosity and nurture and humor, and her self hostility probably kicked off serious nurture fixations on my part.  But I was trying sort out the love of God or Faith in my soul vs. my love for her.  I experimented, said "just try this", and got her to honestly pray the "born again" prayer I prayed at my most Christian moment.  She gave it a shot.   Did so.

A couple of days later she was just furious at me for getting her to do that.  I said I believed in truth more than I believed in Jesus, and that for me it was an "experiment" I honestly wanted to see the outcome of.  She made a remark about me "experimenting on her" soul and we kind of never recovered, except that it was good for me to be scolded and good for her to stand up for herself.  For the record, it was an experiment on my own faith, not on her, and did change me more than it changed her... it was a good experiment.

Christianity was not, as of that moment, "as advertised" by my grandparents.  

I did not give up on spirituality, by any means, but (along with Trungpa) the experience guided my "game theory" approach to spiritual growth, where the desires and motivation of the preacher becomes equally relevant to the understanding of the sermon as the root text in Torah, Tao, Upanishads, Koran, etc.  Spiritual growth, gaming with God, is not a zero sum game.  I fervently believe that God is a case of how large the 10% of what our faith doesn't cover, is.  But truth is light, faith is gravity, and when it comes to judging far away places, I can see more with light than I can feel in dark with gravity.  Gravity means more to me personally, when I'm looking afar, its all about light, and only the truth reaches us from North Nigeria.

Anyway, this faith-headed-spirituality-matrix seems like a good place to negotiate from with Bora Hooker Papa.  He's an ass and taking him out with a sniper is a short and sweet outcome to wish for, but may not address the root causes (WWPutinD?).  Why does someone from a peaceful and religious, if robustly sexist, part of Africa got excited enough to think Allah was talking to him personally and telling him to kidnap all of the teenage daughters in his local community... and expecting a round of %$ing applause?

What would Jesus do?  What would Muhammend or Buddha do?  What would Socrates do?

The $10M donation to schools sounds pretty Jesus-y.  It meets the turn the other cheek non-violence aspect of Christianity, which like Islam, brought peace to cities and was therefore embraced by rulers (sorry for the spoiler, but it's pretty clear that was the source of "organized religion").  You have to rule a city, you cannot hire enough police to do it without the police turning on you junta style, but you offer showings of charity and mercy from a huge cathedral and hope that city dwellers peaceful inner voices get attuned to obey rules like slobbery Pavlovian dogs.  Your people threaten them with eternal hell, promise them inner peace for good works, and then the normal instincts of society to fear the unknown, and nurture the weak, and benefit through commerce, keep the momentum turning.

Free and fair trade, and educated societies, are the product of massive city politics.  Integrity tends to be rewarding, politeness tends to be attractive, and if you have a decent Pope, Ayatollah, Rabbi, or Zen Master to blow the fanwheel, you can achieve great things.  (And build big armies to either protect them, or to impose your city-religion-sphere on another city).

Corruption, lack of integrity, cheating or lack of belief in the system is a drag.  Literally and figuratively.  As I blogged about in "marshmallow theory" income growth is predicted by willingness to save and defer compounding blessings.  Kids who grow up in corrupt societies or corrupt families tend to eat the marshmallows, not believing in the promises of authorities that someone is gonna come steal it in the next 10 minutes if you are sucker and believe you'll earn two by waiting.   (Or maybe you just loathe marshmallows, don't want two, and your time's more valuable if you eat it and walk.  That's part of decision theory too, not attributing to others your assumptions about their perceived benefits).

Having set the context, what's the best way to approach Boko Haram (Western Education is Evil)?  I'm now facing two directions.

Part 2:   What would Supercomputer-Aristotle Do?

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