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  • Posted November 19th, 2015

    Free event in Oxfordshire this Sunday using game theory to explore Trident and the potential for nuclear conflict

    Free event in Oxfordshire this Sunday using game theory to explore Trident and the potential for nuclear conflict

    An experimental day looking at aspects of game theory in parallel with discussions around the replacement of the Trident nuclear deterrent.

    Clearly the efficacy or otherwise of the MAD idea and the emotional response to using nuclear weapons will be part of our discussion, but the main thrust of our experimentation will be looking out how our learned game playing ‘instincts’ impact on the psychology of our responses around Trident and how that might, in turn, effect a persuasive approach to disarmament.

    Braziers Park houses the UK’s longest running secular community and is itself a experiment in living differently. This day is part of Braziers Park’s iu (integrative university) programme, which is an on-going research project around aspects of transformative learning.

    A group of us have been working to develop the integrative university, which aims to develop and research aspects of adult learning for transformative change. Meeting the needs of our uncertain future by peeling away epistemological certainties and questioning the underlying justifications of most contemporary education, which we see as serving a status quo that is not serving us.

    We think the synthesis of game playing combined with creating ‘strangeness’ and a discursive group vibe could be a powerful tool to invite people to see things differently. We believe that we can build an education for a different future and although we are just starting out (and maybe the road will be dark and rocky) in the end we confidently predict that looking at things differently will be good for us and good for you too.

    During the ‘Playing Tiddly Winks with Trident’ day we plan to create a sense of general escalation in conflict, driven by ‘national’ (self)interest and improvement in available technology (that could be potentially used to wage war or to ‘peacekeep’) to stimulate in participants ‘new insight’ into the issues around Trident and similar situations.

    The game will run throughout the day, interspersed with shorter bits of ‘taught’ content. We are assuming, given the fact that this is an Antiuniversity Now event, that most participants will be starting from a view that Trident is an undesirable (or at best, uncomfortable) reality, although the game will have no particular bias, this assumption means that we expect participants to teach as much as they learn in some areas of the subject.

    We are expecting the first part of the game to create conflict (though not necessarily out-and-out inhalation) and will ask participants to role play combatant positions even though they may not reflect their own ideology. We hope the feelings engendered can logically be extrapolated to Trident like scenarios.

    Around lunchtime we plan to ask participants to reflect on mechanisms for doing things differently; trying to get beyond ideology and consider what rule changes might predicate more cooperative outcomes, sharing and testing these ideas in the afternoon.

    The event will run from 10.00 – 16.30, but please come at 9.30 – 10.00 to ensure a prompt start.

    This game will take place outside or in the converted cowshed so boots and wellies and waterproofs are recommended (possibly even essential to full enjoyment of the day).

    The X39/X40 from Reading (station) to Oxford stops within half a mile of Braziers. Ask for Ipsden (or Braziers Park).

    From Reading on a Sunday the X40 leaves at 9.10 and will get you to Braziers for 10.00. However, the first bus from Oxford doesn’t leave till 9.40 and you will miss the start. We took the decision to start at 10.00 because of the short daylight hours; instead we decided to build in the potential for lateness, latecomers can claim asylum in the country of their choice.

    Tea and coffee, plus (vegetarian) soup at lunch time, will be available for sale, but please bring a picnic and snacks to keep you going.

    The day’s programme and other information is available on our facebook events page:


    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's


    • 1Callum Nash November 19th, 2015

      Sounds absolutely fascinating – and should have interesting results – but I thought that game theory had been shown to be utterly divorced from reality? And that in fact, in all tests performed using game theory, most people choose to share, rather than take. Game theory has been an argument for the idea that capitalism is inherent to human nature for many years, and with the death of nash (who hated what his game theory was used for) the idea has been thoroughly debunked.

      Despite that, it’s an interesting event, I hope some doctor strangelove type situations emerge! haha

    • 2Aggie December 12th, 2015

      The results were interesting Callum; seeing the nuclear deterrent mapped mathematically and recognising why unilateral disarmament feels so risky (because in game play it is) and how the utility of (say) the Paris attacks can be altered by our response was eye opening. Some extravagant claims for game theory may have been thoroughly ‘debunked’, but as a mechanism for looking differently at over-familiar problems, it still has mileage.

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