I would like to comment on the “A Beautiful Mind” movie and the book, which was actually much better. I just finished reading another book on the similar side of John Nashs’ assertion of working together rather than competing against. That book was “Co-opetition.” By Adam M. Brandenburger (Havard guy)and Barry J. Nalebuff (Yale Dude). Many have been aware of such theory for quite a while and practice such occasionally for the betterment of an industry or through the art of diplomacy, sometimes through misdirection and other times as an experiment (nothing more, nothing less) especially when it really does not matter and it is not really core to our direction and market domination strategy for any given region. I would have to differ from the movie version in that if you tried to run your business in the fashion that Jim Nash discussed in theory you might do well for a while, but would eventually get hammered in the market place, whether or not you actually were able to sleep with a brunette when you wanted the blond with the big bust (go see the movie, you will understand that comment). In theory it sounded wonderful in the movie yet would not take you very far in the cut throat world of business, even though the regulators always want to level the playing field, more often then not they are manipulated agents for the competition as indicated by Adam Smith, Carl Marx and Rodney Dangerfield in “Back to School.” The fact is that even the referees of business, namely the regulating bodies who want to see the playing field leveled usually tip it in the favor of a politically powerful and well connected companies which fund the campaigns of the over see’ers (politicians). Once the regulatory bodies find they have been duped rather than bring it up with the politicians, they want to punish all the players in the industry and kick them out of the game, of course this hurts the fans (consumers) and then the game (industry) and then the referees and fans are not needed (read; “When Atlas Shrugged” By Ayn Rand).
Unless a perfect and fair playing field exists John Nash’s dream of a perfect system and economic structure cannot exist and that is pretty straight forward with the study of human psychology, Machiavelli, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the prisoners, dilemma or a multitude of truisms surrounding human nature. The world does not work that way, it is not a perfect world and therefore such theories are not worthy of attempt although obviously interesting from an academia standpoint or discussion at the geological societies random coffee house dialogues.
The win-lose scenario keeps forcing someone to lose, if we were to really see the true picture here we would find that what John Nash was saying is that you need to take into consideration giving someone else what they want so you can get what you want. I say Obviously John is right. Too bad regulators condemn the greatest contributors of mankind, while the competitors cheat, the playing field is not leveled and the true voter of the monetary unit of trade called a dollar cannot see through the clutter and scatter of the advertising and behind the scenes truisms of a system which is not all it seems.
When looking at the true methodology of John Nash’s achievements it is fair to say that being able to put simple concepts into mathematical formulas will significantly help the future of computers capable of fuzzy logic calculate the answers to game theory, war efforts, strategic thinking and competition exposure in business. That will be one of the great achievements of his work, which will be in the future. However one who is at the helm of a business has other responsibilities such as the survival and profitability of the company and using John Nash’s strict modeling in an imperfect world is dangerous to the ongoing vitality of a once going concern. Be careful to prematurely adopt perfect systems in an imperfect world.