As video games gain prominence, some game creators are turning to global issues, such as poverty alleviation, international diplomacy, and combating climate change, for inspiration. Playing these socially minded games, they argue, allows users to build tangible skills in combating crisis and solving critical problems. But others see the multi-billion-dollar gaming industry, dominated by portrayals of crime and war, as a threat that desensitizes its users to violence and encourages anti-social behavior. Will video games soon provide innovative solutions to our most pressing social, political and economic challenges? Or is the impact of gaming overrated and potentially destructive?
Finally, America may have a shot at real presidential debates — debates that require the candidates to discuss substantive issues with depth and nuance, to marshal relevant facts, to respond to challenges, and to demonstrate their ability to transcend memorized sound bites and actually think on their feet. The current format is not real debate: it’s reality television and, we can all agree, it’s absurd. It’s time to fix the presidential debates.
In classical Chinese painting, one sometimes sees distinguished figures in a mountain retreat, involved in “the four elegant pursuits.” The first three are readily understandable: painting, music, and calligraphy. The fourth is a surprise: the game of Go. Seeing these paintings, it seemed most odd to include a board game in this pantheon of pursuits. But then I realized there was something quintessentially human about the game. Computers simply couldn’t do it. In 1996 an IBM chess program, Deep Blue, beat the then reigning human champion. Its programs were designed by expert chess players, whose algorithms, pared with the computer’s vast calculating powers, produced an unbeatable competitor. 20 years later, no computer program could play Go as well as decent amateur. Until last week.
Ian Bremmer, one of the most charismatic debaters to grace the IQ2US stage, has ignited a national debate about America’s role as a superpower. In his new book, Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World, he presents a nation in a state of identity crisis, and explores three alternative paths to help us find our way. Bremmer asks, which superpower would you choose: Indispensable America? Moneyball America? Or Independent America?