Sunday, August 17, 2014

Avoid finite games; robots taking your jobs; gentrification

Avoid Finite Games
Daniel Lemire is a blogger who's vaguely related to computer things and I'm not sure why I still read him, but occasionally he comes up with posts like this: A Culture of Envy. His basic point: stop playing finite games (games where someone else has to lose for you to win), and play more infinite games (games where everyone can win).

Over the last say 7 years, this has, without me even knowing it, become kind of a guiding principle of my life.

Simply and obviously: I like games like Pandemic, Betrayal at the house on the hill, Dominion, Ticket to Ride, over games like Settlers or Risk. In Pandemic and Betrayal, most obviously, you're all on one team. (mostly.) Dominion and Ticket to Ride are basically solitaire - you're building up your thing, other people are building theirs, and eventually someone wins but it doesn't really matter. Also chess and Magic, because it feels more like you're figuring out something elegant together instead of competing against each other.
(and word games, because they feel more like sports; whatever.)

Also obviously: I don't like striving for money or, to an extent, fame. And it's not a moral thing; it's just less fun to win something that forces other people to be losing.

Robots Taking Your Jobs
Humans Need Not Apply- Robots are coming for your jobs - all of them - and unemployment might be high forever. Huh! Well, that could be good. (some jobs are super mechanized and dehumanizing; remember the data points in your system are humans, remember they are humans, remember they are humans, etc) Permanent unemployment could be fine - if our basic standard of unemployed life were high enough. Imagine if we had a guaranteed minimum income, and you could get the equivalent of, I dunno, $25k (and health coverage) without working. We talk about empowering artists and stuff - what if you really could?
A friend who was in India for a while: You see super-dire poverty in Calcutta, and we mostly don't have that kind of poverty here. We've decided as a society that the minimum bar is somewhat above that. But the minimum bar is still pretty low here! You can be stuck without the possibility of sleep! God, what kind of a hazy half-existence would permanent sleep deprivation be!
A friend who just got back from Germany: It's depressing, because the infrastructure and standard of living are so much higher there. We could have that! We have enough money! But we choose not to, because "people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps" or something.

just sort of interesting: poor neighborhoods with >40% black people don't gentrify
- but, I mean, maybe gentrification is good overall?
- but read that closer: it's good for homeowners. Well, sure. I'm not real worried about the net worths of homeowners.
- but seriously, it's good for people. I guess they're saying, "it would be good if San Francisco had built more housing." No wait, overall, it's good; rich yuppie invaders don't drive out long-time residents. Huh. But on the ground, people are getting evicted. Aren't they? (or is it a sacrifice for a disproportionately small number of people to make a neighborhood that's better for everyone else, including the majority of poorer folks who stay?)


Todd said...

Do you normally lose at Dominion/TTR? Because if you're not reacting to other players' moves, you're missing part of the game and strategy, for sure.

Dan Tasse said...

Yeah, no, yeah. I mean, "mostly". Obviously you've got to count provinces and race Witches and whatever, but somehow it feels less competitive than something like Settlers.