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Gambling On Bacteria 128

An anonymous reader writes "When it comes to gambling, many people rely on game theory, a branch of applied mathematics that attempts to measure the choices of others to inform their own decisions. It's used in economics, politics, medicine — and, of course, Las Vegas. But recent findings from a Tel Aviv University researcher suggest that we may put ourselves on the winning side if we look to bacteria instead. According to Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob of Tel Aviv University's School of Physics and Astronomy, current game theory can't account for bacteria's natural decision-making abilities — it's just too simplistic. Understanding bacteria's reactions to stressful and hazardous conditions may improve decision-making processes in any human arena from everyday life to political elections."
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Gambling On Bacteria

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @02:57PM (#33874432)

    Yeah but it all boils down to the simplest having the best chance of survival.

    Cockroaches survive better than humans, bacteria survive better than cockroaches, rocks survive better than bacteria, atoms survive better than rocks, etc...

    Simple doesn't always mean "good" though.

  • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @03:57PM (#33875272)

    Yes. As far as I know, all that happens is that bacteria execute a highly evolved instinctive program based on billions of years of trial and error at the generational level. They don't decide to take risks, they simply activate whatever part of their programming is triggered by their environment. More to the point, there is no decision because the individual bacterium has no ability to decide to save itself, even in the face of risk.

    It seems like the only reason their actions compare to human decisions is because the researcher says they do.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault