Proof of Work in Games, Contracts, and Language
Friedrich Nietzsche’s presage on the “death of God” could just have well been written to say reason is dead: it was Nietzsche’s portend there are no grand metaphysical forces governing human life that create meaning or explain the nature of things.
This was a reflection on the agency of man — the ability to act — in the Age of Enlightenment, which heralded the triumph of scientific rationality over sacred revelation — that there wasn’t a universal moral law binding individuals.
Game Theory and Agencies
Hal Finney posted on John Nash’s attraction to Nietzsche, something which is surreptitiously evident in one of Nash’s papers where the question of agency is rendered into individuals as participants in games:
“It is apparent that actual human behaviour is guided by complex instincts promoting cooperation among individuals…there are also the various cultural inﬂuences acting to modify individual human behaviour...” John Nash, The Agencies Method for Modelling Coalitions and Cooperation in Games, 2008
When the research started [on agencies and modelling coalitions] in 2003, Nash admits to an idea on how to eliminate verbal complications that could be become involved in the consideration of coalition formation — Nash notes that a contract is intrinsically verbal, since it (should!), be written down.
The paper was finally written in the character of an experiment to computationally discover evolutionary stable behaviour of a triad of bargaining or negotiating players, which also applies a scenario for attorney agents.
It has been conjectured Bitcoin’s proof of work consensus is a specific case of incentives for agency cooperation — the work on agencies in coalitions was promoted around the same time as [Nash’s] work on Ideal Money.
The questions of what is logic and who decides it, sit alongside Nietzsche’s call on the state of God— attaining to a eternal recurrence of continual movement making it seemingly difficult to establish objectivity that would stand over time.
To such a regard, Nash’s work in game theory emphasises this experience as participation in a game, the quality of which determined by trust and honesty: the problem of verbalising contracts in complicating games shows the language itself to be a game, something Wittgenstein once remarked upon in sprachspiel.
And where it’s possible to formulate contracts with price indices for escalation, most commonly a CPI, there remains the potential to use Bitcoin in such a standard, optimising the integrity of human bonds and value of words when making good on the promise.