theory is the ingredient that could enhance the prospects for success in finding such a theory.
In any case, it’s already clear that Nash’s math shows an unexpectedly powerful way of mirroring the regularities of the real world that make all science possible. As I described in my book Strange Matters (Joseph Henry, 2002), there is something strange about the human brain’s ability to produce math that captures deep and true aspects of reality, enabling scientists to predict the existence of exotic things like antimatter and black holes before any observer finds them. Part of the solution to that mystery, I suggested, is the fact that the brain evolved in the physical world, its development constrained by the laws of physics as much as by the laws of biology. I failed then to realize that game theory offers a tool for describing how the laws of physics and biology are related.
It’s clear now that game theory’s math describes the capability of the universe to produce brains that can invent math. And math in turn, as Asimov envisioned, can be used to describe the behavior guided by those brains—including the social collective behavior that creates civilization, culture, economics, and politics.
While seeking the secrets of that math, we can along the way watch people play games as neuroscientists monitor the activity in their brains; we can follow anthropologists to the jungle where they test the game-playing strategies of different cultures; we can track the efforts of physicists to devise equations that capture the essence of human behavior. And just maybe we’ll see how Nash’s math can broker the merger of economics and psychology, anthropology and sociology, with biology and physics—producing a grand synthesis of the sciences of life in general, human behavior in particular, and maybe even, someday, the entire physical world. In the process, we should at least begin to appreciate the scope of a burgeoning research field, merging the insights of Nash’s 1950s math with 21st-century neuroscience and 19th-century physics to pursue the realization of Asimov’s 1950s science fiction dream.
It would be wrong, though, to suggest that Asimov was the first to articulate that dream. In a very real sense, psychohistory