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Gambling On Bacteria

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the double-down-on-anthrax dept.

Biotech 128

An anonymous reader writes "When it comes to gambling, many people rely on game theory, a branch of applied mathematics that attempts to measure the choices of others to inform their own decisions. It's used in economics, politics, medicine — and, of course, Las Vegas. But recent findings from a Tel Aviv University researcher suggest that we may put ourselves on the winning side if we look to bacteria instead. According to Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob of Tel Aviv University's School of Physics and Astronomy, current game theory can't account for bacteria's natural decision-making abilities — it's just too simplistic. Understanding bacteria's reactions to stressful and hazardous conditions may improve decision-making processes in any human arena from everyday life to political elections."

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128 comments

I'm Betting On Bacteria To Win (3, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874308)

Bacteria has the best chance of surviving whatever we do to the planet, so I'm betting the house on Bacteria to win! Not that it will do me much good when it comes time to collect ... sigh

Re:I'm Betting On Bacteria To Win (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33874432)

Yeah but it all boils down to the simplest having the best chance of survival.

Cockroaches survive better than humans, bacteria survive better than cockroaches, rocks survive better than bacteria, atoms survive better than rocks, etc...

Simple doesn't always mean "good" though.

Re:I'm Betting On Bacteria To Win (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33874654)

Yeah but it all boils down to the simplest having the best chance of survival. ... Simple doesn't always mean "good" though.

Is that why there are so many niggers and they multiply so quickly?

Re:I'm Betting On Bacteria To Win (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878486)

I think you meant to say Mexicans. I wouldn't mind Mexicans breeding like rabbits if only they could be engineered to only give birth to women. Mexican men are both humorous and annoying. They're so short, even as short as 5 foot zero inches, but they act so hard. LOL, they're just a fucking joke.

Re:I'm Betting On Bacteria To Win (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879046)

It would be really nice if we could engineer mexicans to never give birth to males, and for the young females to never go through puberty. Little mexican girls are the sexiest.

Re:I'm Betting On Bacteria To Win (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33875036)

Yeah but it all boils down to the simplest having the best chance of survival.

Great so this means mac users will survive

Re:I'm Betting On Bacteria To Win (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874686)

Wow, not only is the FP a GOOD post, but it's probably one of the best the article will see.

Hats off to you, sir.

Re:I'm Betting On Bacteria To Win (1)

emjay88 (1178161) | more than 3 years ago | (#33876908)

In that case, I'll take that bet. This way I can't lose!

Instead of The Prisoner's Dilemma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33874372)

Bacteria play Conway's Game of Life.

Re:Instead of The Prisoner's Dilemma (1)

chartreuse (16508) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874464)

It' d be interesting to see if there's an analog to the collective behavior of slime molds in Life.

Re:Instead of The Prisoner's Dilemma (1)

jesset77 (759149) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875548)

Bacteria play Conway's Game of Life.

Wrong, bitches play Minecraft, just like everyone else. Reminds me a lot of a 3d Conway's, though..

Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theory (3, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874438)

If both sides stop acting belligerent, there will be peace.
However, if Israel stops and the Palestinians don't, there will be mass casualties on Israel's side.
If the Palestinians stop and Israel doesn't rescind their apartheid policies, the Palestinians will lose what little they have.
If both sides keep fighting, they will both suffer casualties, but they will not lose everything.

It's interesting that the Israelis are looking to biological scum for guidance in such matters.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (4, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874510)

I'll agree to the basic situation you put forward, but of course the situation is trickier than just two groups on opposite sides. Within each group are a bunch of sub-groups along the spectrum of "let's make peace now" and "we won't stop until they are all dead!" Even if you get most of the groups to agree to a peaceful arrangement, the sub-groups who don't agree can spoil it for everyone by causing trouble, leading to increased tension and eventual breakdown of the peace arrangement. It's very unlikely anytime soon that you will get 100% buy in from all sub-groups within both sides. The best you can hope for is a peace that is strong enough to withstand the inevitable bombardment by the sub-groups who don't join until support for them fades. And, in a region where violence is an everyday fact of life, this is going to be very tough to do.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (2, Insightful)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874850)

Not to mention that while peace would be better for Israelis and Palestinians, it is not necessarily better for sub-groups of those populations, such as the Hamas leadership.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (2, Insightful)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875050)

Not to mention that while peace would be better for Israelis and Palestinians, it is not necessarily better for sub-groups of those populations, such as the Likud party.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (0)

ExtraT (704420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875288)

Could you please point me to a single case of an Likud party member setting out official goals of exterminating all Palestinian Arabs, pushing them out into the sea, calling for kidnappings of Arabs to be held hostage and denouncing Arabs' (any arabs) right to live in the geographical palestine?

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875466)

...are you for real? So the Israeli settlers aren't stealing land from the Palestinians? Putting up a wall around Gaza so that the population has nowhere else to go isn't going to push them out into the sea?

Of course they won't make them "official" goals. In this day and age, no one comes out and says they want to engage in genocide. That would be like saying the US tortures. No, we use "enhanced interrogation techniques". And Israel put up the Gaza blockade and dropped white phosphorus on civilians in "self defense". *eyeroll*

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1, Troll)

ExtraT (704420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875772)

OK, then, you want to dance? Let's dance :)

- Majority of the settlements are built on land bought and paid for from it's owners. Please show me a verifiable case of land being "stolen", and also point out who, specifically, it was stolen from. I would like to remind you, that since there has never been any "Palestinian state", ownership of all the land on the occupied territories can be traced to a private individual.

- Gaza houses a belligerent population, implicated in many murderous attacks on Israeli citizens. I would like to point out, that prior to the late 90's (after the start of the so called peace process), Arabs living on occupied territories enjoyed practically unrestricted movement,

- Please provide me with a verifiable timeline that shows the barriers and blockades currently imposed on the Arabs in occupied territories as an OFFENSIVE MEASURE, as opposed to DEFENSIVE. Specifically, I would like to see evidence showing increase in attacks on Israeli civilians AFTER the measure was put into place.

- You mentioned white phosphorus. Please point me to a reliable source that specifies the exact type of the munition in question. Yes, I would like to hear the EXACT TYPE, preferable with some pictures showing the shell casing fragments.

As for the US interrogation techniques - it's not my concern. I would just like to say this: use of torture is, under certain conditions (read: high stakes), almost universal in any country. The US's problem is that they get caught all too easily where other, more politically repressed countries (read: most of the Europe) are typically not. A big problem for the US - one that must be fixed ASAP.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 3 years ago | (#33876220)

In this day and age, no one comes out and says they want to engage in genocide.

Hamas Charter [mideastweb.org] , article 13.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875828)

There is one way, both sides have to agree to pursue attacks on the other as the criminal acts that they are. Random guy in Palestine shoots a rocket over the border? He needs to be hunted down and tried for attempted manslaughter, as well as maybe some laws against individuals performing international militant actions. The same goes the other way, if a land developer in Israel illegally tries to build a new apartment block on contested territory, he needs to be tried and punished under similar non-interference laws.

You need each government to be actively supporting the other against certain segments of their own people. Maybe if each side sees that the other is serious about eliminating rogue miltantism inside it's own borders the process could move forward, but not until then. As it stands now, I've never heard of the government of Palestine punishing the '3rd party actors' who are supposedly launching attacks against Israel, and I've often heard the government of Israel itself take part in acts that are aggressive to the Palestinians.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877946)

That won't work, because a lot of attacks are actual military operations which are viewed to be legitimate by one side but not the other. So you get one class of criminals who have military status, and are therefore immune to prosecution.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1, Insightful)

ExtraT (704420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874554)

It's interesting how you're pontificating on a subject you evidently know nothing about.

In fact, the reality of the matter is that the continuing war means doom only for one side - Palestinian. This follows from the fact that to support their war they had to continuously degenerate their own people further and further towards the stone age. At some point, they will be so low on the civilization scale that no amount of leftie wishful thinking would be enough to support them. And that will be their last day.

On the other hand, the Israeli society is stable and is getting more stable no matter how much you or other people might hope for otherwise. And this piece of news is actually a proof of that: A network of high end, independent educational institutions is a strong sign of a healthy, stable society.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (4, Insightful)

AmericanInKiev (453362) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874978)

Read Phyrrhic victory. Everytime a jew "wins" by brutalizing an opponent which is inferior and powerless in every way, it gives back more in terms of the international goodwill marked "holocaust" than it gains.

Oh; and the homophobes in Brooklyn yesterday didn't do "the jews" any favors; especially when there was no condemnation from any other "jewish anti-defamation league".

Just sayin.

First the Jews came for the Palestinians, and I was quiet, because they wear towels on their head.
Then the Jews came for the gays, and I said nothing because my best friend is a Jew.
Then they came for the Jews, and I pretended they didn't have it coming...

The free pass your parents got doesn't extend to future generations -

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (0, Troll)

ExtraT (704420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875066)

I don't talk to ukranian antisemites - go play with someone else.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33876862)

Way to prove him wrong about that free pass comment.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

ExtraT (704420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877144)

You remind me of an old Soviet joke:

Rabinovich calls the "Rememberance Club" (a known club frequented by antisemites) and asks (in a typical Jewish accent:

- Tell me, is it true that Jews sold Mother Russia?
- Yes, you dirty jew!
- Oh, great, where do I get my share?

Anyhoo, I never got any free passes. Instead, I was confronted with antisemitism from the age of 6. So don't tell me about any free passes. And I'm still waiting for my share of Mother Russia.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 3 years ago | (#33876884)

Awww, anyone who doesn't wholeheartedly approve every shitty thing the Jews do is an anti-semite, huh? I like that theory.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

ExtraT (704420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877094)

I'm sorry, but this Jew (me) doesn't like to be called "it".

Also, he doesn't like to be labelled a homophobe simply because he's a Jew.
And I don't recall any free passes. Especially not from antisemites like him - his kind (the Ukranian antisemites) were murdering my relatives in WW2 while my grandparents fought against the nazis. So, yes, I'm labelling him an antisemite. Because I can tell. And you, apparently can't.

Deal with it.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877292)

It didn't call you a homophobe. It called the Brooklyners homophobes.

If "I can tell" is reason enough then every inner city black who calls the police "racis'" is correct.

I do not care about any "kind" or any grandparents. I care about persons and their personal behavior.
So far I have from your personal behavior:
- Declaring anti-semitism based on city in username.
- Declaring anti-semitism based on actions of people sharing his ethnic background.
- Expectation to be exonerated based the actions of your grandparents.
So far I have from his personal behavior:
- Saying jews, as a group, will "have it coming".

Sadly, I cannot deal with it because I am just not that cool.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33875134)

http://www.adl.org/PresRele/DiRaB_41/5870_41.htm

The ADL specifically denounced Paladino's remarks. I'm not sure what your "agenda" with your remarks was, but you could try being factually accurate.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33875680)

In fact, the reality of the matter is that the continuing war means doom only for one side - Palestinian. This follows from the fact that to support their war they had to continuously degenerate their own people further and further towards the stone age.

Yes, this has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with Israel's treatment of the Palestinians including the blockade. Increase the pressure and use the attacks to justified the continued inhuman treatment.

At some point, they will be so low on the civilization scale

Note the dehumanisation here. Again, this is in the context of the Palestinians being to blame for their own fate, so not only can we indulge in that human tendency to dehumanise our enemies, we can blame them for it as well.

And that will be their last day.

I'm sure you would argue that this is an impartial statement of fact.

I can assure you that I'm getting a very different (and chilling) vibe from it.

On the other hand, the Israeli society is stable and is getting more stable

Israeli society is right wing and getting more right wing. At this point in time, it's probably fair to say that it's inherently right wing, bordering on fascism and that while there are probably many decent Israelis they are quite clearly in the minority and will have no political influence in the remotely forseeable future, so I have no expectation whatsoever of any change in the opposite direction.

no matter how much you or other people might hope for otherwise.

Don't worry about it- I think there are a lot of people who have lost hope with Israel, myself included. And please don't tell me that you don't need my support or care what people like me think- that much is obvious.

A network of high end, independent educational institutions is a strong sign of a healthy, stable society.

Yes, I'm impressed. You did it all on your own! The strength of Israel has absolutely *nothing* to do with the military and financial support of the world's richest and most powerful country.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

ExtraT (704420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33876472)

Wow, what an incredible collection of anti-Israel propaganda. A real overkill in fact.

Let's break it down to it's very mundane and often repeated components, shall we?

Yes, this has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with Israel's treatment of the Palestinians including the blockade. Increase the pressure and use the attacks to justified the continued inhuman treatment.

Here we have the anti-Israeli double standard: Any military action done by Israel is inherently and purely OFFENSIVE in nature. Israel NEVER has any reason for self-defense and it is always the first one to attack. The hundreds of Israeli citizens murdered in cold blood are conveniently forgotten and the timeline of the conflict is inverted. No real proof of this "nice" schema is ever presented.

Truly, Dr. Goebbels would have been proud

Note the dehumanisation here. Again, this is in the context of the Palestinians being to blame for their own fate, so not only can we indulge in that human tendency to dehumanise our enemies, we can blame them for it as well.

Note the continual denial of clearly visible and openly stated facts: the continuous fall of Palestinians towards fundamental islamism, the clearly stated goals of Palestinian leaders ("Itvah El-Yahood! - Kill all Jews!), the openly stated tactics, preferred by Palestinians ("The womb of the Arab woman is my strongest weapon" - Yasser Arafat), The demographical statistics, etc. etc.
Truly, it's the DENIAL OF FACTS that is the clearest sign of the modern anti-sem... sorry, anti-Israeli. ;)

And that will be their last day.

I'm sure you would argue that this is an impartial statement of fact.

I can assure you that I'm getting a very different (and chilling) vibe from it.

And here we see another example of the modern left-wing anti-Israeli advocate: the idea that war can somehow be not chilling.
Come on, man - it's war. People die. People kill. People suffer. People hate. You expect it to be civilized?

Israeli society is right wing and getting more right wing. At this point in time, it's probably fair to say that it's inherently right wing, bordering on fascism and that while there are probably many decent Israelis they are quite clearly in the minority and will have no political influence in the remotely forseeable future, so I have no expectation whatsoever of any change in the opposite direction.

And over here is the funniest: our leftie historian managed to completely invert the actual history: he knows so little on the subject that he totally misses the inherently LEFT political system in Israel: It's founding, it's first 30(!) years of virtually unchallenged LEFT government, it's judicial system, almost COMPLETELY LEFT and, what's worse, virtually impossible to change in any way. The fact is, that Israelies have consistently voted LEFT throughout Israel's history, except in times when the left party in power has managed to screw things up beyond any recognition. So yeah, the government is rightwing right now - because the previous leftwing government has brought this most recent escalation of violence, and the people have had enough with the "peace at any cost" mentality.

Don't worry about it- I think there are a lot of people who have lost hope with Israel, myself included. And please don't tell me that you don't need my support or care what people like me think- that much is obvious.

Another example of the leftie's misguidedness: he thinks that his opinion should matter - it really shouldn't. It's our war, let us fight it out.

Yes, I'm impressed. You did it all on your own! The strength of Israel has absolutely *nothing* to do with the military and financial support of the world's richest and most powerful country.

And the last (but not least) - the all powerful, unquestionable assumption that Israel's existence is a result of the support of the almighty U.S of A. And USA is into it, of course, because of the Evil Jewish Lobby.

I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but USA's aid to Israel is very small. It's very little money, compared to Israel's budget, and most of it is in form of overpriced US military equipment - equipment that Israeli army would never have bought otherwise. Also, USA supplies aid to other countries in the area - all of them strategic enemies of Israel. A big example of this would be Egypt that gets an identical aid package.

Israel, of course, relies on international support, but not in the form of aid - but in the form of strong economic ties with pretty much ALL OF THE DEVELOPED COUNTRIES. And that's not due to some American or Jewish influence: unlike most all of it's geographical neighbours Israel actually has stuff to offer, besides it's natural resources.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877252)

Wow, what an incredible collection of anti-Israel propaganda. A real overkill in fact.

I was expecting my opinion critical of Israel to be smeared, so I'm not surprised, but I'm not going to waste time countering your predictable accusations of propaganda either. At least you didn't... oh, hang on. (*)

Here we have the anti-Israeli double standard: Any military action done by Israel is inherently and purely OFFENSIVE in nature.

Actually, "here" is nothing of the sort- it's a blatant example of you putting words in my mouth. I said no such thing.

Truly, it's the DENIAL OF FACTS that is the clearest sign of the modern anti-sem... sorry, anti-Israeli. ;)

(*) I was going to credit you with at least not raising the kneejerk "anti-semitism" smear anything remotely critical of Israel attracts. Obviously this was fucking stupid of me.

And by the way, "here we have" the stock pro-Israeli defence by smear, that any criticism of Israel automatically means that someone agrees with Hamas' propaganda and tactics and considers them innocent.

And that will be their last day.

I can assure you that I'm getting a very different (and chilling) vibe from it.

And here we see another example of the modern left-wing anti-Israeli advocate: the idea that war can somehow be not chilling.
Come on, man - it's war. People die. People kill. People suffer. People hate. You expect it to be civilized?

You *really* missed the point if you think that's what I was getting at.

You're talking about the decline and extinction of a group of people with the implication that they brought it on themselves and coming across as looking forward to the day when they'll no longer exist.

Do I need to fucking spell it out for you? (Hint; there's a damn good reason I would rather leave it for others to figure out for themselves).

Another example of the leftie's misguidedness: he thinks that his opinion should matter - it really shouldn't. It's our war, let us fight it out.

Stereotypical right-wing bleat, your opinion doesn't matter if I don't like what you're saying.

If you really didn't care what people think, you wouldn't be arguing here. Keep bleating, just understand that I don't give a toss that you think my opinion "should" be worthless, and that I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion on principle (ah, isn't that nice, touchey-feely and stereotypically lefty). And if mine upsets you... that's great because I have no respect for yours and wouldn't piss on them if they were on fire. :-)

And the last (but not least) - the all powerful, unquestionable assumption that Israel's existence is a result of the support of the almighty U.S of A. [..] A big example of this would be Egypt that gets an identical aid package.

Are you claiming that Egypt gets the same, pro rata?

And my criticism was of your implication that Israel got where it is on its own.

And USA is into it, of course, because of the Evil Jewish Lobby. (*)

Actually, I was under the impression that batshit insane, prophecy-obsessed Christian fundamentalists were a far larger driving force in US attitudes towards Israel than they're given credit for.

BTW, if you're trying to big-up the propaganda you're trying to put in my mouth, "conspiracy" sounds more hateful and extremist than "lobby". Try harder next time!

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874576)

And the Palestinians too, of course.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (2, Interesting)

ExtraT (704420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874612)

Oh, and by the way: what might be "game theory" to you is actually lives and deaths for people involved. You should be alittle bit more careful with your approach to the subject. It's basic ethics and morality - something that should come as second nature to any wannbe humanist ;)

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33874646)

This one is the better troll on "science uber alles" Slashdot. Nice work.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33875108)

After 50 years of trying to exterminate each other, I think they've all lost any empathy the world had for them in the first place.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

ExtraT (704420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875316)

I'm afraid at this point it's actually more like 100 years.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875268)

Perhaps, but the reality is that often the people that are really making the decisions are self serving bastards.

Consider a corrupt government that diverts relief funds away from its population and towards its own pocket books.

I don't donate to relief efforts for this very reason.

I know it's never going into a starving person's mouth as food, but instead into a terrorist's armory as weapons and ammo.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

ExtraT (704420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875488)

The Arab/Israeli conflict is greatly supported by various mercantile interests: starting from suicide bombers blowing themselves for money (their families get it afterwards), continuing to various politicians making career out of the perpetual (and quite futile) "peace process", and ending with various corporations making money on various projects (weather peace or war related).

As for charity - any kind of money-based charity is questionable (and ultimately harmful), unless you have direct and total control on how the money is spent.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

rthille (8526) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875644)

A humanist should realize that morals are just the results of genes playing at game theory.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877038)

Game theory is *moddeled after* the way people behave in these kinds of situations. You can say that FittingNameGuy is being callous by applying game theory in a bad way but you can't say that he is being callous by applying game theory at all.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (2, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874798)

I can't help but laugh at that one.

Actually, I would say that the problem here is that, your assessment is exactly the one that seems to be used by both sides. So long as that is the perceived situation, there doesn't appear to be any solution but to have them fight it out and go with the winner (which would be Isreal, we are talking about one side that can utterly wipe the other off the face of the planet, and one that can't).

I would like to think that the reality is, that this assessment is flawed in that "massive casualties" on each side are valued more than massive casualties on the other side. Either way, its peoples lives.

I tend to think that the reality is more nuanced. If Isreal backs off, yes, there would be more casualties. However, I don't see the Palestinians maintaining an elevated level of casualties in such a situation. Its just plain hard to justify continued attacks against someone who is backing down and giving you reasonable things that you asked for.

My own application of game theory is that, in the medium term, such a strategy would drive a wedge within the Palestinian opposition and erode anti-isreali sentiment.

The bigger problem that I see, is Isreal internally weathering the short term storm and not swinging back towards ultra nationalism and changing course back.

Essentially, I would liken such a process to a couple of bipolar people who hate taking their meds.

Thats the problem with game theory, in these situations, you can't assume a "nation" is a single rational actor. Its a play of internal actors playing out their own games, for the chance to control the overall strategy.

Imagine... playing risk, but instead of having players, each color is a group of people who are constantly playing a game of poker on the side to determine who makes the moves. I think thats a far better way to think about it.

-Steve

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874888)

That is an interesting theory, but it would lead to the result that no nation could act rationally since each individual actor acts rationally within his own sphere of influence. But what that fails to recognize is that such seemingly random actions taken in aggregate actually do exhibit a gestalt which can be examined, and this in turn leads us to view groups as single actors with understandable goals and predictable behavior.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874924)

However, if Israel stops and the [if] Palestinians don't, there will be mass casualties on Israel's side.

Because the stated goal on the Palestinian side (their current government) is the destruction of Israel and pushing the Jews into the sea.

If the Palestinians stop and [if] Israel doesn't rescind their apartheid policies,

Because the stated goal of Israel is apartheid (irrespective of violence from those being kept apart)?

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875008)

Excellent post/username combo.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875016)

However, if Israel stops and the Palestinians don't, there will be mass casualties on Israel's side. If the Palestinians stop and Israel doesn't rescind their apartheid policies, the Palestinians will lose what little they have.

I'm not sure it's a simple as that. I'm no expert on the subject, but it often seems like each side is going beyond the point of defending themselves and antagonizing the other side. There's a lot of revenge and hatred and contempt going on, which often results in sub-optimal outcomes for everyone involved.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (3, Insightful)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875102)

However, if Israel stops and the Palestinians don't, there will be mass casualties on Israel's side.

Say what?

Please, compare the number of Israelis (young or old, male or female) that have died at the hands of Palestinians in the last ten years to the number of Palestinian children that died at the hands of Israelis in the last ten months

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

Binestar (28861) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875582)

Please compare the number of Israeli children with access to RPGs in the last ten years to the number of Palestinian children with access to RPGs in the last ten months.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877956)

You mean like every single Israeli 18-year-old that gets forced to do a stint in the IDF?

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878968)

Or the number of children the Israeli army hides behind while firing at the enemy then cries about how inhumane said enemy is when they defend themselves with the number of children the Palestinian army hides behind while firing at the enemy then cries about how inhumane said enemy is when they defend themselves.

The palestinians should go where they came from (4, Interesting)

maweki (999634) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879424)

I say, the palestinians should go where they came from!

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875198)

Simple case of the Prisoner's Dilemma.

If you can't trust the other side to cooperate, it's foolish to put your own ass on the line.

And it's always profitable to sucker punch the other side once they let their guard down.

An exercise in Game Theory (1)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878096)

If you do your research on game theory, I think you'll find that this is more of an Iterated Prisoner's dilemma, than it is a single instance of the game. If you research your strategies, I think you'll find that the most successful strategy requires that the participants be nice, forgiving, and focused on their own success rather than on beating their opponents.

Apply that to to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and tell me if your conclusion that violence is still the Nash Equilibrium.

Re:An exercise in Game Theory (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878330)

I don't think your assumption that both sides want peaceful coexistence is necessarily valid.

Re:Israel is an interesting exercise in Game Theor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878478)

What you are describing is The Prisoner's Dilemma, and while it might be a little more complex than that in practise, I applaud anyone who is consciously applying game theory to real-world conflict.

It's the only responsible thing to do.

that is a bad analogy... (1)

yyxx (1812612) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879736)

If both sides stop acting belligerent, there will be peace.

There are no "both sides" that are acting.

In Israel, the same entity controls the military and its level of violence, makes decisions on settlement policy, has a functioning police force, and participates in the peace talks.

For the Palestinians, this is not true. Violence by Palestinians is carried out by a wide variety of forces, many of which are under nobody's control. The people suffering from settlements are your average farmer. And the people participating in peace talks have little ability to control anything. They have tried turning the Palestinian territories into a police state, and they still can't get a handle on terrorism.

Israel is the only entity with the power and control to change anything. And what Israel does is to use their power in effect to ensure that there will be continued violence by Palestinian extremists, which then is used by the Israeli government to justify even more repressive actions.

The Palestinians live under Israeli control. The Palestinian/Israeli conflict is a conflict that exists, effectively, internal to the state of Israel. Israel needs to figure out how to solve it, either by giving the Palestinians equal rights within Israel or by unilaterally creating a viable Palestinian state. The negotiations that are going on are just a PR stunt to prolong the status quo.

Can someone answer this for me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33874480)

What is a "Universityresearcher"?

Seriously now, do the editors not even read the fucking summaries they post?

Re:Can someone answer this for me? (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874644)

From the sound of this article, a university researcher is something akin to a hepatoscopist [wikipedia.org]

More then the sum of its parts? (2, Interesting)

Gorkamecha (948294) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874484)

I thought the research was pointing at the fact that bacteria seem to function as collectives and are therefore more complex then their individual components would indicate. http://www.ted.com/talks/bonnie_bassler_on_how_bacteria_communicate.html [ted.com]

Re:More then the sum of its parts? (4, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875308)

In other words, bacteria cooperate.

In game theory this is a common phenomenon that collective good is boosted when people aren't selfish.

Re:More then the sum of its parts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33875314)

Otherwise, by reading TFS:

current game theory can't account for bacteria's natural decision-making abilities -- it's just too simplistic.

, one might get the impression of another, Creationist argument of the form "the eye is too complex, therefore it was created".

Confound? (2, Interesting)

symes (835608) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874518)

As far as I can tell, the researcher is comparing clusters of bacteria with individual (human) choice. Surely he should be comparing clusters of bacteria with clusters of people, we already know that crowds tend to perform well. And my guess is that a crowd of people would do a whole load better than a petri dish of bacteria. Even a crowd of students.

Re:Confound? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875048)

As far as I can tell, the researcher is comparing clusters of bacteria with individual (human) choice. Surely he should be comparing clusters of bacteria with clusters of people...

I'm not sure why. They're comparing a cluster of bacteria cells to a cluster of human cells. An individual person is still a cluster of cells.

Bacteria and politicians... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33874546)

Jokes in 3... 2... 1...

Advances in game theory from Israel (1, Offtopic)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874560)

I expect no less from a country whose national sport is the Prisoner's Dilemma.

Re:Advances in game theory from Israel (1)

Michael Kristopeit 2 (1913310) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875868)

they also spend a fair amount of time empowering the meek.

in the end, response is only as good as sensory input.

Most human societal behavior is similar (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874564)

The difference is in the size of the rule set for each individual actor in the group. Otherwise, millionaires, beggars, sheep, voters and slime mold all follow similar structural rules for decision making, en masse.

Re:Most human societal behavior is similar (2, Insightful)

ComputerGeek01 (1182793) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875068)

No they don't. Did you read the article? The point of it was the bacteria working toward a common good.

"Sometimes we need the restraint of the community," says Prof. Ben-Jacob. "As individuals we need to set some boundaries, and not just boost ourselves at the expense of others."

This right here is the key sentence. When was the last time you've seen "restraint in the community" for the greater good of the whole?

Re:Most human societal behavior is similar (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875164)

Um. Yesterday. My very competent manager did not scream at my not so competent co-worker for making irrelevant suggestions about low-risk, low-probability events, because she knew it would help nothing, ruin the purpose of the meeting and so she said nothing, taking the person to task, off-line where only she would have to hear him (unpleasant but necessary).

And whose community are we talking about here? The collective decisions of billionaires for themselves and their own good aren't going to be the same as those of middle-class homeowners trying to pay off their mortgages (or not).

Re:Most human societal behavior is similar (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 3 years ago | (#33876682)

When was the last time you've seen "restraint in the community" for the greater good of the whole?

Just a moment ago when I read you sanctimoniously pessimistic statement and DIDN'T push the big red button that is labeled "Nuke From Orbit."

Bacteria for Congress (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874586)

"Understanding bacteria's reactions to stressful and hazardous conditions may improve decision-making processes in any human arena from everyday life to political elections."

Bacteria: Finally, a candidate who tells the truth, never flip-flops, and can really get stuff done!

Re:Bacteria for Congress (1)

slinches (1540051) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874934)

Bacteria: Finally, a candidate who tells the truth, never flip-flops, and can really get stuff done!

Oh yeah? Tell that to the bacteria that just lies there on my flip-flops. The only thing it's been able to accomplish is giving me athlete's foot.

Re:Bacteria for Congress (4, Funny)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875222)

E-coli for congress! They really know their shit!

Re:Bacteria for Congress (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878040)

Sounds like incumbents to me.

Article summary... (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874688)

A bacterium, being a highly complex, somewhat random, biochemical mechanism, makes "decisions" based on complex, somewhat random, internal biochemical processing of external chemical and environmental messages. When growing together in large colonies, since this processing is happening in a complex stochastic environment, it is hard to understand the ultimate outcome for the colony and the individuals inside it and, thus, the system seems "mysterious and magical" to us. When bacteria are under high stress levels, one way they compensate is to "sporulate", hardening the cell membrane and going into a type of hibernation which they will wake up from becoming healthy, frisky bacteria again if the environment becomes suitable again. One of the possible intermediate states during this process is called "competence", where the bacterium makes its cell wall permeable to absorb additional nutrients. But it might kill them, too, as the environment is, admittedly, high-stress. We really don't know how they decide to do that. Isn't science wild, wacky, mysterious, and magical?

Of course, it wouldn't seem like that to you if you had to wash all these damn Petri dishes and try to make idiot reporters understand "competence" - which is what you're really studying after all.

anthropomorphic drivel (2, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874704)

Individual bacteria weigh their decisions carefully

OK dude whatever. Ultimate in anthropomorphism. I'm surprised the author didn't describe it as little bacteria surfing wikipedia and using their smartphones and twitter to coordinate their flash mobs.

Re:anthropomorphic drivel (2, Funny)

NoOneInParticular (221808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874830)

Uhm, it seems that the author described them as weighing their decisions carefully, not as being a random pack of mindless automata that use twitter, wikipedia and who travel in flash mobs. Give these bacteria some credit.

Re:anthropomorphic drivel (2, Informative)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875272)

Yes. As far as I know, all that happens is that bacteria execute a highly evolved instinctive program based on billions of years of trial and error at the generational level. They don't decide to take risks, they simply activate whatever part of their programming is triggered by their environment. More to the point, there is no decision because the individual bacterium has no ability to decide to save itself, even in the face of risk.

It seems like the only reason their actions compare to human decisions is because the researcher says they do.

Re:anthropomorphic drivel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33875962)

What makes you think humans are any different?

Re:anthropomorphic drivel (1)

SourGrapes (1003959) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878286)

You wouldn't have any clue that humans "weigh decisions" or have any kind of mental life whatsoever either, except that you know from your first-person experience that we do.

Re:anthropomorphic drivel (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878396)

> ...except that you know from your first-person experience that we do.

But we only know that he makes noises that we interpret as signifying that he asserts that he has this experience. We have no objective knowledge of his internal state.

Let it ride (2, Funny)

i-c-electrons (1467179) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874722)

Give me $100 on black plague.

Re:Let it ride (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 3 years ago | (#33876308)

For $250, I'll give you Chlamydia.

Re:Let it ride (1)

ExtraT (704420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33876614)

Hehehe, here in Montreal decent Chlamidia can be easily had for 140$ an hour ;)

So wait... (2, Funny)

Philomage (1851668) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874732)

future humans might add bacteria to their physiological make up to help them make better decisions and this article isn't tagged with "midichlorians"?

What A Stupd F$3KING Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33874764)

"Bacteria, he explains, are both simpler and more sophisticated — they can more effectively control this superfluous noise and make group decisions that contribute to the well-being of the entire bacterial colony."

In other words, bacteria use crowdsourcing to make decisions.

Dear "Prof" Ben Jacob: You findings are NOT new [google.com] . Your tenure should be REVOKED.

Sincerely,

Kilgore Trout,
Akademgorodok, Novosibirsk.

Casino conduct (1)

bigrockpeltr (1752472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874840)

Excuse me sir, we require all patrons entering the casino to have showered within the last 12 hours. We provide public showers for those we can not determine to be telling the truth.

Gambling using bacteria. (1)

sempir (1916194) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874842)

Now I know why some people blow on dice before they throw.

the importance of transparency (1)

cats-paw (34890) | more than 3 years ago | (#33874930)

and by that I mean the availability of all necessary information. The first thing that I noticed as I actually read the FA was that the bacteria start releasing chemicals to signal there intentions and/or state.

One of the reasons people make bad decisions is because other people will withold valuable information PRECISELY so that you will make a bad decision. Even if you are in a group that wants to do the right thing there is almost certain that important information lying outside your environment is necessary to increase your odds of success.

It really is important that information be free.

Game theory does just fine here (5, Insightful)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875082)

IAAGT (I am a game theorist)

I looked (briefly) but did not find the PNAS article, as I suspect that the medical daily article gets it wrong, and that Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob doesn't bash game theory tools. The Med Daily reporter probably misinterpreted the Prof.'s comments about groups of bacteria versus groups of people.

Why don't all the cells go into 'survival mode'? It's not the best for the colony, and there are many real world examples of altruistic behavior towards one's family / colony / species.

One game theoretical model for this looks through an evolutionary lens: the players are species of bacteria and choose species wide traits. One strategy is 'everybody goes into survival mode', the other strategy is '10% go into survival mode'. Through random mutation, chance, whatever... a species picks its strategy, nature makes its move, and the game goes to the next round.

Re:Game theory does just fine here (1)

hawkeey (1920310) | more than 3 years ago | (#33876014)

I linked the PNAS a few comments down, but here's another link. http://www.pnas.org/content/107/30/13197.full [pnas.org]

See my comment for better links.

Re:Game theory does just fine here (1)

Cussin_IT (1143215) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878854)

This kind of reminds me of a species of possum (I don't think it's an Asutralaisian one, so it must be from the Americas). If there isn't food for all of these possums in the area, some will just drop dead allowing more food for those that are still alive.
From the stand piont of any given individual, this is a bad evolotionary move, but for the species as a whole it gives them a distinct advatage over a population that is continualy expanding and the food source stays the same size.

Borderline absurd (1)

skelly33 (891182) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875444)

I decided to scrap my long-winded lecture on this topic in favor of leaving only my concluding statement: I see zero connection between the success of natural selection's random genetic mutation based on massive trial and error and an individual's (in)ability to win a chance hand of poker.

Interseting timing (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875628)

I was recently in the position of commenting on an analogy a friend was putting together describing DNA-related processes like transcription. My primary criticism was that certain processes were anthropomorphized. Representing cellular processes (or, more generally, chemical processes) as human activities and "decisions" tends to create confusion about what's really going on.

And within a week or two of that, I find myself reading a story that bothers to ask why indiviual bacteria don't "try to save themselves". Well, let's try not thinking of them as human beings with self-awareness and instincts geared toward indiviual survival - much less as humans with individualistic views traditional in the Western world.

In fact, why are we even calling the cellular responses of bacteria a "decision"? It's not - it's a stimulus response. A complex one, to be sure, but even remotely comparable to human decision-making only if you reject free will. (Even if you do reject free will, the illusion thereof is strong enough that the comparison of this bacterial "decision" to human decisions hinders comprehension rather than aiding it.)

If we must compare bacteria to humans, let's do it this way: Compare an individual cell in a bacteria colony to an individual cell in a human (or other complex organism). Compare the whole of a complex organism to the whole of the colony.

If you do that, then suddenly the story's hook about applicability to gambling - or even the relationship to game theory in the first place - seems a little bit thin.

Winning in evolution is about genes not individual (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875650)

In the "game" of evolution, winning isn't about an individual, but about traits (genes).

For complex organisms like humans, the set of traits that I contain is different than the set of traits you contain - so if I breed and you don't, my traits "win" and yours "lose" (loose for the slashbots among us). So a trait that makes me a selfish bastard who screws you at every turn may (not always, but may) be more "successful" than other traits. Put a bunch of people in a position where only one can survive, and they all will compete to be that one - even if they really aren't the "best" choice: "only one of us can parachute out of this plane, you are a trained paratrooper and will likely survive, I have no training and will likely die anyway, but GIMME THAT PARACHUTE MOFO!"

Now, in a puddle of bacteria, it's different. Modulo random mutations, all the "individuals" in the puddle have the same set of traits. A trait for "screw my neighbor" leads to everybody dying. In a case where only one bacteria can survive, it is in the best interest of the traits they all share that the bacterium in the best position to survive gets all the help it can from all the others, even though all others die in the process.

Original Article (3, Insightful)

hawkeey (1920310) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875744)

The press release does not link the original article(s):

Bacteria determine fate by playing dice with controlled odds
Eshel Ben-Jacob and Daniel Schultz
http://www.pnas.org/content/107/30/13197.full [pnas.org]
doi: 10.1073/pnas.1008254107

This is a commentary on:

Biological role of noise encoded in a genetic network motif
Mark Kittisopikul and Gürol M. Süel
http://www.pnas.org/content/107/30/13300.abstract [pnas.org]
http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1003975107 [doi.org]

and makes ample reference to

Architecture-Dependent Noise Discriminates Functionally Analogous Differentiation Circuits
Tolga Çaatay, Marc Turcotte, Michael B. Elowitz, Jordi Garcia-Ojalvo and Gürol M. Süel
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2009.07.046 [doi.org]

A colony of bacteria is not like a group of people (1)

userw014 (707413) | more than 3 years ago | (#33875918)

I would think that a colony of bacteria are all (genetically) identical - where as a group of people are not.
Behavior that enhances the survival of the gene is what is going to be demonstrated - not necessarily survival of an individual.
A colony of bacteria is more akin to an individual than it is to a group of people, which makes the "sporulating" behavior described more akin to a person moving their hand away from a hot flame - while still staying close enough to a fire to keep warm.
The article demonstrates a great deal of ignorance of genetic selection (Darwinism), although I don't know whether to blame the journalist or the Professor - or the translation.

dick (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33875948)

win ou7; either the

Bacteria are effectively older and have more time (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33876568)

bacterial generations are fast.

they've had a lot more natural selection on their genes than we have.

Whose to say billions of bacteria don't die in these situations and we are not seeing a decision, but merely the survivors.

The decision being made by letting unsuited members die.

Humans do that some, but also they try really hard to sustain defective humans they like.

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