Games (for magic-ians and music-ians 😄)

The Game of Life is the best known example of a cellular automaton. Cellular automata have been studied in depth in Stephen Wolfram's monumental A New Kind of Science (ANKS). In ANKS, Wolfram posits that simple programs should be studied on their own and that they may lead us to an understanding of the complexity found in the physical world. This thesis generated a lot of controversy, but it resonated with me, intersecting with many of the things I have been interested in. In what follows, we'll carry with us this idea that extraordinary complexity can arise from simple rules.

Here is the twist. Can we find games to play (and their accompanying sets of rules), not to understand the complexity of the physical world, but the complexity of our individual inner world? I'm looking into playing two such candidate games, games which should help, in theory at least, enhancing mental resilience when faced with the upcoming disruption caused by Artificial Intelligence (I elaborate on this statement at the very end, after we look at some background material). Now, that's quite a mouthful, and this motivation of mine will probably appear outlandish at first. I do not want to philosophize too much about it here, nor do I claim to have found earth shattering wisdom to back it up. But obviously I hope you may find some value in this game playing.

It is obviously slippery territory for someone with no training in psychology to engage in such a "mental resilience" talk. And sure enough, in the very first version of this "Games" section, I got nothing but push-back from both sides of the thinking/feeling divide. Colleagues, especially the younger generation, did not quite appreciate my venturing into what they view as California-style woo-woo stuff. And some of my friends on the humanities side thought I should make a better case about why this game playing might be helpful.

Nevertheless, both sides agreed on a core question: "who is your audience?" and this is too important to pass. I have three audiences in mind. The first is an audience of one, myself; do I understand what I'm doing? Second audience is people working in AI, techie types like myself; some are better at magic, others are better at music. This exceptional crowd is probably the most critical audience for what I am trying to say and where the reconciliation of ideas must occur first, if anything of value can arise. If it does not make sense for this audience, then I failed. The third audience is the same as the audience for the aibluedot site, namely anyone who is interested in what a future based on AI might look like and how one might prepare for that future. But it will take some time before ideas here are mature enough to be consumed by this third audience.

The two games are the Enneagram game and some version of the Glassperlenspiel. There is one particular area of the enneagram, known as the void, on which I will focus when I play the game. In fact the whole "Games" section (both games) could be looked at as an elaboration on the enneagram void. The other game is the Glassperlenspiel, German for Glass Bead Game and the title of Herman Hesse's novel; the novel was published in 1943 and Hesse received the Nobel prize in literature in 1946. I prefer to use the German word when referring to this specific Glass Bead Game in Hesse's book, and not others.

Please do not be offended by my extending the use of the word "game" to the context of enneagrams. Games are most serious endeavors; in fact playing games is what mathematicians do. But while the games played in Mathematics are based on precise formal systems, the Enneagram Game and the Glassperlenspiel are left vague on purpose. Hesse never specified the precise rules of the Glassperlenspiel, and if you read the novel, you see that this could not have been done any other way. With the Enneagram Game, we can be more specific about its conventional system of rules, and then modify those rules so that each individual can play his/her own game.

Glassperlenspiel is the ultimate game of knowledge and it is very elitist. In fact, it is elitism at its extreme. Masters of the game (fictionally of course) know everything: mathematics, physics, art, music, ..., well, everything. They make connections between all these subjects, seek generalizations, synthesize thoughts, and generally go to bed exhausted. One can look at it as an idealization, an aspiration that anyone can dream of on a walk through the forest.

Some more accessible form of it, something with immediate applicability, could be played by anyone, we'll see why this might be helpful later. In fact, a stronger statement could be made, namely that we may need to introduce such game playing in the education system, because there is a sense of urgency regarding the upcoming AI disruption. People could play this more accessible form to make connections and synthesize thoughts within their own model of reality. For now we will call this more practical version of the game, the Glassperlen Game, for lack of a better alternative. And since Enneagram has the Greek "ennea" in it, it just seems fitting that this second game has some non-English component as well (haha! I know).

Regarding enneagrams, when I was first introduced to them I found them cute and useful, but my interest was limited and I did not see their full potential. It took me much longer to think that they could complement this more accessible form of Glassperlenspiel. To some this may appear as a stretch, but this is version 0.1 after all!

Even though I said this above, it is worth repeating; the purpose of both games would be to enhance our understanding of ourselves, of the things that matter to us and of the people around us. So, both games are more about people and the concepts immediately relevant to them, NOT about the physical world, and therefore NOT about science as in Conway's Game of Life. They are in fact about attempting to apply a more rigorous, close to (but not quite) a rule based thinking, to what are necessarily more nebulous human experiences.

You can look at the Enneagram Game as the emotional intelligence side of our game playing and the Glassperlen Game as its complementary cognitive intelligence form (feeling versus thinking, as we'll make clear later). Both have spiritual connections. BUT, and this is a big BUT, we will not look at one as being superior to the other. One more thing, I read Das Glassperlenspiel for the first time in my teenage years. A teenage boy cannot forget that there were no women in the novel, none whatsoever! As a revenge, the Enneagram game is best played with your sweetheart 😄! Thinking versus feeling again, haha again! There is a third game to be played, but I am keeping it as a surprise because that one you played for sure!

Gerri wants us to play the Glassperlen, Sean wants us to play the Enneagram.
Should we be listening to both?
Enneagram Game

I propose here that the best way to make use of enneagrams is to treat them as a game. Part of that means that you will have fun changing the rules of the game. And indeed, if you read through the enneagram literature, you will see that there is a large variety of games being played. Regardless of how the game is played, self knowledge and knowledge of others are the goals.

Glassperlen Game

One would benefit from reading Hesse's book, although it is dense and not absolutely necessary. We are looking at a reduced form of Glassperlenspiel, tailored by each of us to our own individual needs. The universal knowledge of the Glassperlenspiel would be replaced by our own limited knowledge. Making connections between and synthesizing our past experiences are the goals.