601: Game Theory

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Game Theory
Wait, no, that one also loses. How about a nice game of chess?
Title text: Wait, no, that one also loses. How about a nice game of chess?

[edit] Explanation

The comic and title text is a direct reference to the movie WarGames. In the movie, a rogue AI is asked to play Global Thermonuclear War, a game simulating a nuclear attack scenario. After analyzing all possible strategies, the AI reports: "A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?". Interpreted literally, this means that the computer has figured out that it will lose the game no matter how it plays, so it chooses to play chess instead. A more profound interpretation is that wars always end badly for all parties involved so it's better to play nicer games like chess.

This comic asks an AI to "play love", which initially could be expected to end happily for everyone involved, as love is the opposite of war and war ends always so badly. Surprisingly, the result from the AI is the same: if you play love, you'll end up badly, regardless which moves you play. The title text leaves love as looking actually worse than war, since in war there's at least the "winning move" of not playing, however in love even refusing to play means that the player loses the game.

[edit] Transcript

[Cueball is sitting at a computer. The text appearing is implied to be what he sees on the screen.]
A.I. Loaded
>>> analyze love
[An hourglass appears over the computer.]
[The hourglass continues to display.]
Computer: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

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WarGames is also referenced in the title text for http://xkcd.com/696 -- ‎Blagae (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
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