actually have other stuff that goes in here [the equations] besides the knowledge that all human beings have temperatures. You also know something about their degree of being risk averse, and this, that, or the other…. You are not just a temperature; there are other aspects to you.”

Adding such knowledge about real people into the equations reduces the ignorance that went into the original probability distribution. So instead of predictions based on all possible mixed strategies, you’ll get predictions that better reflect real people. “It’s a way of actually integrating game theory with psychology, formally,” Wolpert said. “You would have … quantification of individual human beings’ behavior integrated with an actual mathematical structure that deals with incentives and utility functions and payoffs.”

Wolpert began talking about probability distributions of future states of the stock market and then, almost as an aside, disclosed a much grander vision. “This actually is a way of trying to get a mathematics of psychohistory in Isaac Asimov’s sense,” Wolpert said. “In other words, this is potentially—it’s not been done—this is potentially the physics of human behavior.”16

Just as I had suspected. The suggestive similarities between Asimov’s psychohistory and game theory’s behavioral science do, in fact, reflect a common underlying mathematics. It’s the math that merges game theory with statistical physics. So in pondering what Wolpert said, it occurred to me that there’s a better way to refer to the science of human behavior than psychohistory or sociophysics or Code of Nature. It should be called Game Physics.

Alas, “game physics” is already taken—it’s a term used by computer programmers to describe how objects move and bounce around in computerized video games. But it captures the idea of psychohistory or sociophysics pretty well. Game theory combined with statistical physics, the physics of games, is the science of society.



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