I’ve been trying to find this quote for some time now and finally have located it. It’s from the Prologue of William Rosen’s The Most Powerful Idea in the World (Random House, 2010):
“Once humanity was tethered to the ground where its food grew, settled societies developed; and in them, hierarchies. The weakest members of those hierarchies depended upon the goodwill of the strongest, who learned to operate the world’s longest-lasting protection racket.”
I’ve just started on John R. Pierce’s old but marvelous book An Introduction to Informaton Theory which appears to be written for the semi-layman.
Interestingly, to introduce the notions of theorems and proofs, he introduces a game called Hex. The board, obviousy, is composed of hexagons. At the left and right are black boundaries and at top and bottom are white boundaries. The object of the game is for either player Black or player White to complete a line of hexes joining the one boundary to the other. He then goes on to prove that the first player to move will always win.
Okay, so what if, in interstellar contact, the first player to move will always lose?
That is, that the cost of making that first contact will make it so that the first mover will always “lose” in the long-term and, therefore, the best move is to wait for someone else to make first contact?