What game theory teaches us about war | Simon Sinek

  • Published on Nov 8, 2016
  • What would happen if ‘win’ and ‘lose’ are no longer the only options when fighting a war? What if a third, more abstract ideal becomes the goal? And -- what if not all the players are aware of the new rules? Simon Sinek uses game theory to explain some of the strategies and outcomes behind past and present wars.
    TEDArchive presents previously unpublished talks from TED conferences.
    Enjoy this unedited talk by Simon Sinek.
    Filmed at TEDTalksLive in 2015

Comments • 2 822

  • manessvijay
    manessvijay 21 hour ago

    2:43 nobody has ever won in Afghanistan nor will anyone ever win
    all this cold wars and talk of infinite by big players is a nice ploy to subjugate small nations by other means

  • Robert Simon
    Robert Simon Day ago +1

    How can we have a Cold War with global warming? This is the problem with our government!

  • Barry Wood
    Barry Wood 2 days ago

    The other player didn't drop out of the Cold War, they were FORCED out by America because they could not keep up with us. This speaker needs to learn history before speaking, maybe add a few decades of experience and wisdom too. What a fool.

  • Pradhan Kariappa
    Pradhan Kariappa 2 days ago

    Simon most of America's problems are from it's capitalistic conquests to stay rich and powerful so you naturally make enemies. But as you say it's an infinite game and others will make their moves and it's interesting to see what you will do in the long run to ward it off.I see the other half winning as your alliances are drained of resources because of the wars you start in the name of altruism. UK has officially drawn it's support.

  • Johanne Steinway
    Johanne Steinway 3 days ago

    1:48 The game of business is not an infinite game because there is a limit to numbers. But not bad.

  • Robert Rudd
    Robert Rudd 3 days ago

    In War games...The Finite And Infinite “Ultimately” are the same, playing a game...Which intellectually and actually are Finite and Infinite. The circle and the fulcrum are all circle...except one is always in Esoteric contact with the other, pi ensures that....even on the Infinite And Finite, Branes, Are Brains! ? Which are pulsing between Breathing in and out..somewhere in the pulsing Ying meets Yang, and their jobs are assured Holistic and allied! RDR

  • Jeff Hoon
    Jeff Hoon 4 days ago +3

    Imagine having Simon as any one of your major college class professors. How much more would have learned, become, changed in the world. 🤯
    TED thank you...better late than never. 🤓

  • kevin walters
    kevin walters 5 days ago

    "The art of war is subduing the enemy without fighting" Sun Tzu.

  • Brad Young
    Brad Young 6 days ago +1

    If you havent watched Simon's other material, do a quick search on the internet. This dude does some deep thinking about everything

    • Jeff Hoon
      Jeff Hoon 4 days ago

      Brad Young indeed he certainly does

  • Peter F-Model
    Peter F-Model 7 days ago

    Interesting theory, but its only a small part of the story. The cold war was an economic conflict, capitalism against Marxism, or centralised state control. You can throw in democracy against totalitarians, but at its core its economic. That war was won by capitalism and Marxism was totally discredited, assuming a system which murdered 100 million people as part of state policy has any redeeming features at all.
    The world today is a classic leviathan system, with the US acting as a form of global police man in order to support globalism. The same thing occurred in the 19th century, with the British Empire being the leviathan. The problem with this type of rather unusual world order is the leviathan, in order to create a market for their goods, ensures competitors are created. So The British Empire assisted Germany, japan and the United States to the point they were no longer able to act as a global policeman and the globalised economic system collapsed. In the case of the British empire just before the start of World War I.
    As long as the United States is prepared and has the economic power to remain a global police man, everyone who benefits from globalisation will tolerate the pax America. But once a nation discovers it has the military power to ignore the global cop it will be tempted to engage in some form of conflict which will cause the collapse of the global economic system. Then the dogs of war will be released.
    Many of the examples brought up here are all tactical, which depend on the micro-decisions being made at the time. Sometimes they work, sometimes they do not. Vietnam was a war which had no winning strategy and no exit strategy, thus the disaster. Iraq did have an end-point and an exit strategy, and while it was a classic example of a ham-fisted execution it worked. In Afghanistan, on the other hand, there was no winning strategy but at least the involvement is minimal. But apart from all of these tactical micro-decisions there was a core ethical objective, maintenance of the global economic system. So far this is working, so far!

    • Peter F-Model
      Peter F-Model 6 days ago

      Defining victory is a difficult thing, but if we look at the primary objective, which was to ensure the global economic system was not affected, it has succeeded. Iraq today is no threat to oil shipments in the gulf. We can argue if Iraq was ever a threat to the global system before the invasion, but its certainly no threat now.
      I suspect this was totally accidental but the US picked the correct internal policy in Iraq, for the people of Iraq. When the British took Iraq after WWI they decided to support the minority Sunni over the majority Shia. The reasons are complex, but it was their way of ensuring any government in Iraq was depend on British power. This did not work out by 1941, but it was a typical tactic major-powers use to keep countries weak and unstable and in that it worked.
      When the US took Iraq they allowed elections and, of course, the majority won. There are downsides to this as when a majority controls a country the minority is automatically persecuted. This is exactly what has occurred with the Christians and other minority sects, including the Sunni’s. The upside is the country has reasonably high cohesion.
      Now I am certain this was accidental, because in the long term a majority does not need outside powers to assist it in keeping a country under control. Iraq will slowly slip from the US sphere to the Iran sphere of power, but I am certain the long term was not considered when Hussein was toppled.
      Afghanistan is the oppose problem. The majority are Pashtun and they do not have much power in the current government, thus any attempt to stabilise that country is many orders of difficulty greater. The best option is a Syria like Tajik tyranny, supported by the rest of the minorities against the Pashtun, which is unstable at best. My guess is the country will split, but external factors will have the greatest influence. As long as the US has troops in Afghanistan it will continue to limp along, but is suspect the troops will be coming home soon. My guess is before the next presidential elections, for you guessed it, political reasons.
      I have heard the theory that the Iraq invasion has increase the power of extremist groups, but as most of the extremist groups which have gone on to become a threat have their original in Yemen and Wahhabism, well before Iraq was ever invaded, I suspect you need to look into that direction for an explanation. I also suspect the proxy war in Yemen will have increasingly nasty side effects in the next decade. Watch Yemen.

    • marschma
      marschma 6 days ago

      The iraq war did not "work out" in any means. It was the biggest foreign policy and military disaster in US History since the Cold War and is seen as that by the majority of the US people.
      Its "exit strategy" got delayed for years, there was no strategy once the military vicotry was there and it destabilised the middle east immensly while giving rise to extremist groups.
      On the other hand the US lost credibilty on a global level for "being the good cop" by commiting war crimes, is now known as a global warmongerer and lost its allies trust to not be reliable.
      The iraq war was a total loss for all sides involved.

  • mikepodella
    mikepodella 8 days ago +1

    This dude is totally full of shit.

  • Anatolie Cb
    Anatolie Cb 8 days ago

    As Thomas Pickering said, Former US Ambassador to the UN: Point number 1 - We are no longer a predictable partner. Point number 2 - we are getting out of the agreements, rather then fashioning them.

  • NoWayFolding
    NoWayFolding 8 days ago

    Does this guy know anything about game theory. Infinite game sounds like complete nonsense. How can a game have no end result, then it ceases to be a game. Its an oxymoron, and just like this guy and stage he's a fraud and a moron.

  • Ben Sanderson
    Ben Sanderson 11 days ago

    I wish I lived in the 1991-2001 world. The world was peaceful for a whole decade. Capitalism had defeated Communist tyranny and there was no great enemy to the powers that served freedom. Its gonna be harder to get back to that stage than it was for the US to lose its day in the sun in that stage.

  • Ben Sanderson
    Ben Sanderson 11 days ago

    In ways he's suggesting we fight Islamic extremism and Chinese economic growth head on and I think people should get the message that they are our enemy. They hate Western values and countries, they exploit the money but hate democracy, human rights and liberty. We have to stand for the FREE world in a much more strong way than we currently are. I admire Donald Trump for this. He's limiting Chinese advances because he knows that the world is safer and more free with the US as the global hegemonic power. He's opposing Islamic extremists, preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons, supporting notions to deport the vitriolic immigrants. We'll never have the whole world on our side but we can save the free world. If we don't realise that this world is in serious trouble from those seeking to destroy it, we will lose all our privileges. And that is a fact. And I'm just applying exactly what he is telling the US to do. #truth

    • swapode
      swapode 8 days ago

      And this is why clever rhetoric doesn't mean clever results. If you think "they hate Western values" is an explanation you need to wake up.

      Islamic extremists used to be an absolute fringe group, motivated by shitty US foreign policy (like building up the Taliban, supporting the Saudi crime state, ...). Probably less than 100 people were involved in all extremist attacks over the decade leading up to 9/11. But the US decided the answer to that was to bomb a whole struggling region to pieces. This isn't about values, this is about desperation and the utter absence of perspective. Just like half of the american population hides behind racist motifs to deal with their desperation.

      And China certainly doesn't hate western values. They adopted them years ago and work tirelessly to catch up. But of course they're copying the real values, not the lip-service values nobody, certainly no american government, takes seriously.

      The one place america needs to fix is america itself. Introspect and leave the rest of the world alone for a bit, maybe we can work on healing the wounds you needlessly cut then.

  • Esatpircsnart
    Esatpircsnart 12 days ago +18

    I can't remember the last time (if ever) I said this about a TED speaker, but I'll say it now: Brilliant.

  • cardboard box
    cardboard box 12 days ago

    Where the soviets and vietnamese fighting for there life? I understand on some level the motivational difference to fighting in you own house and being able to give up and go back to your house but if they smile wanted to live wouldn't the best strategy be to welcome the new overlords?

  • Matthew Inglish
    Matthew Inglish 13 days ago +1

    Unusual to see a TED talk which is just incorrect, they usually have better standards than this.
    Sinek's theories and predictions are bogus because he bases his ideas on some demonstrably untrue statements.
    1. America exports democracy. No, America is actively hostile to democracy, most of the countries America has attacked over the last 70 years has been because those countries were behaving in a way which was in accordance with the will and interests of their people.
    2. American actions over the years since the cold war have been confusing because America has been acting contrary to it's values. No, America's actions are as predictable as clockwork, because those actions are perfectly consistent with the value that might makes right and America is the mightiest.
    3. America doesn't know who their enemies are. No. America is perfectly aware that it's the eternal enemy of all other sources of power. It's the ultimately aggressive power which literally believes, though the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, that it not only can it be, not only will it be, but that it is _inevitable_ that America will be the only nation on earth, ruling over all humanity, and that _anything_ done in pursuit of that end is justified.
    As Gore Vidal said, the most impressive achievement of America is it's capacity for self love. Americans suffer a level of brainwashing in their worship of their country that the Chinese, North Koreans and Hitlers Nazi party could only admire. So it's hard to say if Simon Sinek is a pure propagandist, or whether he's purely deluded, like most other Americans.

  • Winniny means sweet
    Winniny means sweet 13 days ago

    Bogus propagandist..

  • Xid RK
    Xid RK 14 days ago

    Cool story bro
    Things stopped going threw our "values" when the Federal Reserve and other manipulating forces/actors took over and forced us.
    Join us or you get dealt with. This started this whole mess. The only way out is to all re-educate us in our common enemies within the US.
    The US can not be destroyed by a force from outside, but it can be form the inside. That is our current situation.

    • Ben Sanderson
      Ben Sanderson 11 days ago

      Why don't we just deport those who are clearly malicious? The Muslims for a start. As a Brit we share ur problems on this. As a Brit we SERIOUSLY need to deport some Muslims. They're clearly against freedom and Liberal, questioning culture. And if theyre in the country that's where the country falls down because it surrenders our values. Screw re education deal with them.

  • Reginald Mc Nab
    Reginald Mc Nab 17 days ago +1

    What do we do! What do we do about this kind of US regime mentality : "if we see that germany is winning we should support Russia and if we see that Russia is winning we should support Germany that way they kill as many as possible" Harry Truman.

    We don't have an inch of territory of another country but yet robbed nearly half of Mexico's territory.

  • Ted L
    Ted L 18 days ago

    This lecture is so timely. By abandoning all values, Trump has alienated our allies whom we need so much for world stability, and emboldened our enemies. Before 45 was even in office, this guy hit the nail on the head.

  • J ML
    J ML 19 days ago

    Loved this

  • Nigel Douglas
    Nigel Douglas 20 days ago +1

    Well, that's just a theory
    ... A GAME THEORY!!

  • Brayden Clark
    Brayden Clark 20 days ago +1

    I lost the game.

  • Matthew Campbell
    Matthew Campbell 20 days ago +4

    Interesting talk but it fails to acknowledge the proverbial elephant in the room. The difference between the past and the present is that in the past, most American could agree on our common values. Today, that is no longer the case.

    • Zen
      Zen 15 days ago

      Common values like seperate toilets for blacks, literally you had everyone trying to be progressive killed for some meaningless values

    • Lee Maitland
      Lee Maitland 17 days ago

      Exactly his point, the actions taken by America over the last few decades have muddied the water, not just for allies, but for Americans also. Consensus needs to be found, the middle arena of politics needs to be re-energized, and America (similar to my country the UK) needs to forge new values. These values should define the actions that America takes, and the more of those value-driven, predictable actions America takes, the more cohesive its friendships, and the stronger it becomes in the world, especially to its enemies. So rather than say 'today, that is no longer the case', which I agree with, given the ebbs and flows of history it might be more accurate to say 'American citizens could again agree on common values'.

      We all have so much more in common than we do in difference, ignore the news and focus on the things we all have in common and eventually the right values will emerge, act through those values and others will follow you.

  • HateJethro
    HateJethro 22 days ago

    Now how can I use game theory to improve my MMA/combatives skills?

  • Russell Brown
    Russell Brown 23 days ago

    this guy is spouting propaganda

  • Russell Brown
    Russell Brown 23 days ago

    this is nonsense, the Americans pretend to fight finite wars when they know they are not. All the major ISIS attacks were done by NATO/MSM staged events.

  • salehw
    salehw 24 days ago

    This is self-serving Western war propaganda. For example the US didn't torture abroad because of its values but because of its laws, there is plenty of torture in US prisons and police stations.

  • mhmd b
    mhmd b 24 days ago

    Turkish subtitles please

  • Childofearth
    Childofearth 26 days ago +1

    Why can’t we just be allies with the entire world? 🤦🏻‍♂️ This war game has gone on for far too long, like two thousand years too long!

    • The Laughing Rabbit
      The Laughing Rabbit 24 days ago

      The game is infinite, someone will always step up to try and win over all because SOMEONE will think it's finite and fail to realize there are ALWAYS players vying for control.

  • Hai Vo
    Hai Vo 26 days ago

    No credibility! You’re way too young to lecture pal.

  • kidadd
    kidadd 27 days ago

    This is incoherent.

  • garyweglarz
    garyweglarz 28 days ago

    Sadly, "American values" are and have pretty much always been "every man for himself," "making a buck trumps EVERYTHING else," "violence works," and "we're the exceptional nation unbound by international law" - in other words we're a completely - "lawless state." We've become a bi-partisan war-state that see's itself as unbound by the available international legal mechanisms, and in the process we've become the greatest threat to collective human survival the world has yet seen. Other than that - everything is as rosy as can be here in our neoliberal capitalist paradise where 50% of our U.S. population shares a whopping 1.3% of the net wealth. What could possibly go wrong with "the game" our oligarchs are studiously playing? Playing as if they have any freaking clue whatsoever of the impact on that game to the planet, to humanity and to all life on earth.

  • Malcolm Wallace
    Malcolm Wallace 29 days ago +1

    "when you pit a finite player against in infinite player" that is what happens in a game of poker when a player bluffs and goes all in against the finite players amount of funds

  • Vlad Tepes
    Vlad Tepes 29 days ago

    to think wars have a definite state of winning and losing, like video games?

    • Vlad Tepes
      Vlad Tepes 29 days ago

      you don't win wars for the high score. uh, hopefully.

  • reymysterios9
    reymysterios9 Month ago

    New players have emerged- domestic left wing terrorists in America. The biggest threat.

    • Ted L
      Ted L 18 days ago

      Almost all domestic terrorists are crazed, violent right-wing nutjobs, buddy.

    • EpicChocolate
      EpicChocolate Month ago +1

      reymysterios9 Bigger than radical far right militias that are heavily armed

  • Riley Shaw
    Riley Shaw Month ago

    Dude sounds like Mike Birbiglia. Good talk tho!

  • Pal Tomori
    Pal Tomori Month ago

    He is correct. Islam is the biggest ideological threat to anybody who is not a Muslim. This ideology must be dealt with and defeated like Communism or Fascism.

    • reymysterios9
      reymysterios9 Month ago

      Domestic left wing terrorism and insurrectionism has entered the fray as the biggest threat to America since this video was made.

  • Jose Muga
    Jose Muga Month ago

    Donald Trump is the subject of this lecture 😂😂

    • Javier Ng
      Javier Ng Month ago

      This talk was in 2015 when Obama was the President.

  • Jon Orefi
    Jon Orefi Month ago

    The U.S. was NOT fighting to win in the IndoChina War, the mission was to preserve the South's govt., we would of invaded the North if it was necessary to win. He said the communists were fighting for their lives. No they weren't, they were invading the South, if they want to survive - then don't invade. He doesn't know the history of the war - so he doesn't know what he's talking about. How does the ''nuclear tension'' fit into the war? The U.S. uses a nuke & the war is over, if it was necessary to use nukes we would have.

    If the world is so ungrateful of American leadership why have their been no MAJOR wars since the end of the Cold War - since the end of WWII? He's got to be the dumbest person I've EVER seen on TED.

    • Chase Anderson
      Chase Anderson Month ago

      He said the Viet Cong you dolt, not the NVA.

  • Michael Simmons
    Michael Simmons Month ago

    Martian Ambassador: "...for dark is the suede that mows like a harvest"
    General Decker: "What the hell does that mean?"

  • J H
    J H Month ago +5

    I'd say the emerging social credit system in China is a pretty good "not that"

    • Greg Jacques Lucifer's Jizz Gargler
      Greg Jacques Lucifer's Jizz Gargler 10 days ago +1

      but again, the larger teleology of values still matters a bit more, as the speaker said. it's "not that" because it goes against democratic values... but then... so does the american senate. **shrugs and smokes some weed.**

  • Retired Replicant.
    Retired Replicant. Month ago +1

    You nailed it bro.

  • Ding Dang
    Ding Dang Month ago

    But that's just a theory

  • John Smith
    John Smith Month ago

    This guy is a lying piece of shite - ALL governments think long term, and the goal of every government is the stability, the well-being and the advancement of it's citizens. The reason the US stopped thinking long-term is because it is run by corporations who think only in profits and quarter-term outlooks. I also had a good laugh at this idiot's little speech about "values" and how "we will risk american lives to nurse an adversary back to health" - doe this moron know that US drones have bombed villages that have ONLY women and children in them? What about all the weddings and funerals they bombed "mistakenly"? Or that US helicopters attacked a freakin' HOSPITAL run by Medecins sans Frontieres and killed over 40 people there (most of them doctors and hospital staff) because they SUSPECTED that Taliban insurgents were being treated there? Or that Russia genuinely wanted a partnership but the US instead wanted to turn it into a third world country - and that Putin is hated by the west because he threw all the traitors and parasites that were bleeding Russia dry out of the country? Hey, did you know that most of the parasites were Jews? And that they were given control of Russia's natural resources by Yeltin (a western puppet) and were siphoning off the profits to Israel and then the UK? Say, isn't this guy in this video Jewish as well? What makes you think he's being honest with us? Why no talk about how NATO broke every agreement they had with Russia and stationed their bases near the Russian border? Or the fact that most of the "terrorists" de-stabilizing Syria are armed, trained and supported by people like you? What, no talk about your "values" now? Oh, and if you managed to unite so many different nations, belief systems, ethnicities and political players against you by having all of them point at you and say, "NOT THAT", then maybe the problem is with YOU and not THEM? P.S. "Should we torture people"? Asshole, YOU WERE TORTURING PEOPLE - It's YOUR soldiers or YOUR commanders giving the orders to your stooge countries to do the torturing? And just because it was outside your borders you think you're exempt? By that token, the Nazis should be exempt since they committed most of theri crimes outside their country!

    CHEESEY TOKE Month ago

    But hey..........

  • Gowtham M Thirunavukkarasu

    Got to say, the use of game theory here is very gimmicky. This guy just fancy packs what we already know and peddles it with all the fervor.

  • Abba A
    Abba A Month ago

    The Cold War was not an infinite game. The goal wasn’t to perpetuate the game. What was this idiot smoking?

  • Michael Spano
    Michael Spano Month ago

    the art of war is now an infinite game. taxpayer funded endless shoot em ups for the corporate elite's profit. even treating the wounded enemy is a taxpayer funded profit for the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry. multiple fronts chaos at home and abroad win or lose has no meaning. values are not present in this game. on going infinite profits are the game.

  • Lazy Daisee
    Lazy Daisee Month ago

    The goal today doesnt even seem to be to try and win...just fight in a way that doesn't annoy public opinion too much.

  • Brandon Faun
    Brandon Faun Month ago

    First you need to win the values game at home, define the role of our institutions, and those values shall project themselves abroad as a result. The US is in turmoil with a dysfunctional sociopolitical and economic system, a toxically hyperbolic and vitriolic political faction in obstinate, obstructionist power, and challenged by mobile plutocratic, special interests in a rapidly globalizing world beyond the purview of regulatory powers and their state or national boundaries. All of which comes during a time of climate change and constitutional crises...last thing you need is corrupt leadership. Unfortunately, since an entire generation of Americans can't agree on what a fact is we are irrevocably screwed. Have fun on this ride...the game has infinite means but is finitely timed by its impact on the world around us.

  • Chris Longbine
    Chris Longbine Month ago +1

    Multiculturalism destroys common values and ends with only one outcome. Division and war.

  • Aliza Jameson
    Aliza Jameson Month ago

    Oh look a Jewish Warmonger pushing the greater israHell agenda, no surprise really.

  • Bilal Khan
    Bilal Khan Month ago +1

    I wondered why he mentioned that Pakistan and China had nuclear weapons but failed to mention India and Israel.
    Then I found out he's of Jewish decent, which explains a lot in terms of the Zionist agendas he's trying to push.

  • Mario Basso
    Mario Basso Month ago

    Well put and love this guy. Just on a side note, I shure as hell hope current american values will never be trusted. Shame but thrue. Fix your shit then we’ll talk

  • adukuttan rocks
    adukuttan rocks Month ago +2

    Something about this reminds me of Amazon.

  • humanyoda
    humanyoda Month ago

    Is being predictable always good?

    • NatoCaloGaming
      NatoCaloGaming Month ago

      I think what he means in that context is being reliable. Having a predictable response to certain issues means the enemy cannot use that unpredictability as a weakness to make you look erratic. Allies trust people they know have similar values and so if a country is giving off differing values in their responses to a crisis, they cannot trust that.

      Hope that makes sense.

  • Dabasaurus Kex
    Dabasaurus Kex Month ago

    Difficult to play the game when one of the players has outlawed speech criticizing them.