Re: Informal Networks LO7743

From: John Conover <>
Subject: Re: Informal Networks LO7743
Date: Wed, 5 Jun 1996 21:49:35 -0700

Replying to LO7543 --

Valdis E. Krebs writes:
> Replying to LO7543 --
> What is interesting here is that by being well connected, they gained even
> more connections!  The concept of 'increasing returns' (them that has
> gets) in action!

Strangely, I don't think the concept is new. In the early 60's, NASA
was doing studies into just that. They concluded that the "informal
leaders," (what they called the "inner face," of the organization,)
was, essentially, how the organization worked. Out of these studies
came what was to be called "group advice, one man decisions," which
was an organizational/management paradigm for NASA until the mid 70's,
or so.

The term, "... concept of 'increasing returns' ..." is interesting,
since it is a term from complexity/economic theory.  Additionally, it
is interesting that the term is used in relation to organizational
"connections" which would tend to indicate that the "informal leaders"
or the "inner face" of the organization could be modeled using
cellular automata, which is, in addition, a reliable analytical
technique used to model interpersonal and social relationships with
game-theoretic methodologies. See the works of Robert Axelrod and
Stephanie Forrest for details. I think they can be found at the Santa
Fe Institute,, and have proposed using genetic
algorithms in addition to CA/GT techniques to simulate dynamical
outcomes of large systems where game strategies are not constant-ie.,
the game rules have to be developed, or learned, "on the fly."

I think Forrest's C source code is available on (I
could be wrong!) that she used to model a "society" with "massively"
many concurrent players, (or "citizens,") each player playing the
game-theoretic iterated "prisoner's dilemma," (ie., classic
multi-player zero-sum iterated game,) with the other "citizens" that
are in close proximity. The results of the simulation are astonishing,
to say the least. Most "players" eventually "discover," or "learn,"
and adopt a cooperation strategy in relation to the "society" as a
whole-which is a counter-intuitive outcome in relation to
game-theoretic analysis, where it can be shown that the only
"rational" strategy for such a simple zero-sum game is
non-cooperative. BTW, this was a major issue with John Von Neumann,
(who founded game theory,) and considered it enigmatic that
game-theoretic means predicted that the only rational outcome of
humanity was self destruction. (He made the comment, some time around
1954, that this was why we are alone in the universe, since the
"prisoner's dilemma" has no solution, all intelligent beings would
eventually destroy their selves.)



    "John von Neumann and the Origins of Modern Computing," William
    Aspray, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1990.

    "Prisoner's Dilemma," William Poundstone, Doubleday, New York, New
    York, 1992.

    "Handbook of Genetic Algorithms," Lawrence Davis, Van Nostrand
    Reinhold, New York, New York, 1991.

    "Complexity," M. Mitchell Waldrop, Simon & Schuster, New York, New
    York, 1992.

    "Games and Decisions," R. Duncan Luce and Howard Raiffa, John
    Wiley & Sons, New York, New York, 1957.

And a really great www site for the history and introduction of game


John Conover,,

Copyright © 1996 John Conover, All Rights Reserved.
Last modified: Fri Mar 26 18:56:37 PST 1999 $Id: 960605214942.11856.html,v 1.0 2001/11/17 23:05:50 conover Exp $
Valid HTML 4.0!