And finally we come to the last post in our game theory subsection, itself the last section in what I originally called “practical worldbuilding”. Conflict and cooperation are in many ways two sides of the same coin: ways in which multiple people can interact. Since, this whole section has been about people making decisions, conflict and cooperation is really about how groups of people make decisions.
In many ways the concepts we’ve already covered are more than good enough to handle this case, it just gets a bit unwieldy to start working through all the details for each individual. You start running into behaviours like Keynesian Beauty Contests and things become… complicated. Theoretically we want something like Asimov’s psychohistory, but that is still sadly fictional.
Still, we can say some interesting and hopefully useful things. Conflict occurs when the apparent goal(s) of another person is/are incompatible with your goal(s). Cooperation occurs when the apparent goal(s) of another person is/are compatible with your goal(s). As we have seen however, goals are tricky things. And just like people are pretty bad at evaluating risks, we’re also pretty bad at evaluating the goals of other people, even when we’re not being actively deceived.