Universal Schelling points (was SPORT: Ready? . . . Break!)

Sun, 9 Feb 1997 23:56:45 -0500 (EST)

Greg Burch wrote:
>> Extropy Institute should consider selection and publishing
>> of [rendezvous] sites . . . to be a high priority.

Anders Sandberg replied:

> [H]ow to choose these . . . .?
> They obviously have to be reachable and in some sense natural.

Sounds like we need some Schelling points! In other words, to explicate this
game theory concept to the uninitiated, we need cooridination devices that
independent agents will choose without prior consultation. An example of a
Schelling point: If your friend told you to meet her in Paris, but did not
say where, you would probably head for the Eiffel tower.

I take Greg to suggest we avoid the need for Schelling points by choosing
meeting cooridinates beforehand--a great strategy so far as it goes, but one
that for obvious reasons might not work for all of the human diaspora.
Anders suggested Schelling points based on the sun's relation to the galatic
core. Using the Earth to derive a Schelling point seems pretty reasonable
for humans--but only if they remember their origins! So here, too, we might
still face a cooridination problem.

So I'm led to ask: Were you an intelligence wandering free and lonely in the
galaxy, where would you head to meet others? What, in other words,
constitutes a universal Schelling point?

I offer a tentative answer: The point where gravitational forces of the
universe sum to zero--galatic center, if you will.

Lastly, I note that if we can figure out the universal Schelling point, we
might discover that our alien peers have already started meeting there.
Anyone have access to a decent-sized radio observatory?

T.0. Morrow
V.P. and Director, ExI