312 - From strategy to cognition

N. Lygeros

One of the most memorable steps of the extension of strategy out of a purely military context is the adoption of the concept by the originators of the theory of the games von Neumann and Morgenstern in 1944. The age of management, direction and firm policy due to the pioneers of the planning in firm is gradually replaced by the firm strategy. Besides, it was during the next years that strategy has been competed by the “management defence” system and the crisis management.
In reality, as it was noticed later on, there is a basic hiatus between theory and practice. Pure strategy is mainly a zero-sum game according to von Newmann’s wording. Because all in all the basic conflict is the duel. Hence the introduction of the theory of the logical duel by Tarde. Now, it is obvious that it represents a simplistic view of the conflicting position even if it is supplemented by the coalition law in the triads of Caplow that is to say ” three protagonists tend to be reduced to two, the two weakest ones joining forces against the strongest one or the strongest ones joining to carve up the weakest one.” what we can construe in terms of graph theory as follows : A ≤ B ≤ C (A ← C and B← C ) or (A ← B and A ← C) and realize it is simply a conceptual Ramseyan reality independent of the characteristics of the opponents and above all, with no part played by time, representing a serious mistake from a strategic point of view.

Moreover, in the nuclear age the apparition of the concept “worst case analysis” shows the theoretical weakness of an attitude only based on probability. Because war, according to the expression of Clausewitz, is a real chameleon and so, naturally unpredictable in its polymorphy. Thus, we just observe a natural conceptual tool within this context that is to say probability logic based on the fact that information is never perfect. So, if in a world where information is so to speak essentially incomplete and despite the main opinion reducing strategy to a mere technical process based on substrate technology, its intellectual dimension has to be pointed out. For it has not only a material component with implemented resources but above all, an intellectual component representing the personal action of the strategist. In an uncertain world, man’s survival has always inhered in his main characteristics that is to say intelligence. So, it is not surprising to observe it in the field of strategy. Essentially chameleon-like, it is adapted to crisis situation and more generally to war. Via its plasticity, it can evolve in worlds that it doesn’t perfectly know. By the way, it has no interest in an automatic world that is ruled by a determinist algorithm. It only gets its power in a context made uncertain by the complexity of parameters. For it doesn’t represent the perfect control of a familiar world but an epistemologistic transgression in a partly-known world. Its action is not based on the elimination of the mistake as in a rigid line of conduct but on its use as a heuristic tool free from structural pressures. The evolution as regards the notion of strategy leads to the awareness of the matter of intelligence that remains the most powerful weapon of man despite technological contributions. And even if one day, the natural one gives birth to the artificial one, it would only have modified substrate and the basic essentials will always remain intelligence.