Show cover of Game Changer - the game theory podcast

Game Changer - the game theory podcast

In Game Changer, the podcast by TWS Partners, we want to share our enthusiasm and passion for game theory and its applications. We invite guests from business and academia to discuss how they use the power of game theory in their profession to make a difference – and to learn some fun anecdotes, useful facts and valuable insights along the way. Join us on this journey, and find out that game theory is much more than a topic for ivory tower discussions.


Are football players Game Theorists? – scoring the perfect penalty | with Ben Lyttleton
In this episode we talk to Ben Lyttleton about a particular topic in football: how to score the perfect penalty. Ben is an expert on penalties and has gathered a lot of insights on the ‘perfect penalty’ in his book Twelve Yards: The Art & Psychology of the Perfect Penalty. Ben shares that penalties are much more complex than initial Game Theory models would suggest. For a full understanding of penalties gathering the right data and understanding the psychology of the penalties are both critical elements. During our discussion Ben shares many anecdotes from his work with football clubs and teams.   Ben Lyttleton is a British football journalist and author of news articles and books. Our discussion is based on Ben’s book “Twelve Yards: The Art & Psychology of the Perfect Penalty”.
31:33 22.11.2022
The 2022 Nobel Prize – why the economy needs banks | with Karolin Kirschenmann
In this episode, Karolin Kirschenmann explains why this year’s Nobel Prize in economics was given to Ben Bernanke, Douglas Diamond and Philip Dybvig. We discuss their research on the role of banks in the economy and the models developed by the researchers. We deep-dive into the modelling of bank-runs and their relationship to Game Theory.     Karolin Kirschenmann is deputy head of ZEW's Research Unit “Pensions and Sustainable Financial Markets”. Her research focuses on the areas of banking and (global) financial intermediation.
35:01 08.11.2022
Why market designers love NFTs | with Scott Kominers
In this episode, Scott Kominers introduces us to the exciting world of NFTs. We learn about their fascinating properties and their potential for creating new markets or reshaping existing ones. Scott also gives a few practical examples of how NFTs can be used, both in the digital and the real world. Scott also gave us the idea of creating our very own NFT: We used the Proof of Attendance Protocol (POAP) to create a “digital badge or collectible” using blockchain technology. POAPs are typically used to digitally prove attendance of an event. In our case, we use them as a fun way to celebrate this Game Changer episode with our listeners. You can claim your very own POAP by contacting us via email at Scott Duke Kominers is Professor of Business Administration in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School, a Faculty Affiliate of the Harvard Department of Economics, and a Research Partner at a16z crypto. He also advises a number of companies on marketplace and incentive design, especially in the world of crypto and web3. He is co-authoring a book about NFTs.
31:19 24.10.2022
Do we need a price for damaging the climate? – with Achim Wambach
In this episode, we discuss with Achim how addressing climate change and economics, especially market design, are linked. Achim shares which economic incentives we should utilize to ensure we can meet our climate goal. Our discussion is based on Achim’s very recent new book publication “Klima muss sich lohnen” ( Achim Wambach is the president of the ZEW, the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research, and professor of economics at the University of Mannheim. He was a member of the German Monopolies Commission from 2014 to June 2022 and served as its chairman from 2016 to September 2020. Achim also is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
20:36 11.10.2022
Talking about a revolution – how Game Theory can predict the stability of political systems | with Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
In this episode, Bruce shows us how Game Theory can be successfully applied in the field of political science. In particular, we discuss the explanatory and predictive power of the Selectorate Theory, which analyses political systems regarding their properties as democracy or autocracy. Bruce explains the underlying game theoretic model of this theory, how he obtains the data, and which conclusions he can draw from the results, including predictions on coups or revolutions. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is the Julius Silver professor at New York University and emeritus senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He is a political scientist, specializing in policy forecasting, political economy, and international security policy. He is also the author of many books, like “The predictioneer’s game” and “The dictator’s handbook”, among others. You can read more on the Selectorate Theory here, here and here, and develop your own predictions using the online version of the Predictioneer’s Game software.
41:10 26.09.2022
Dinner’s ready! On Common Knowledge and the value of information | with Christoph Kuzmics
In this episode Christoph Kuzmics explains the game theoretic concept of Common Knowledge, using fun anecdotes from his personal life. We also learn that Common Knowledge is much more than just passing information to all parties, and that in some situations, it is desirable not to establish full information. Christoph Kuzmics is professor of microeconomics at the university of Graz, Austria. His research focusses on the development of the theory of strategic interaction and its application to the social sciences. He also runs the Game Theory blog, where he shares fun anecdotes and examples of game theory from everyday life. This podcast episode is based on his blog articles “The dinner gong” and “non-secret-voting”.
25:50 12.09.2022
Summer break
This is a short announcement of Game Changer Podcast going on summer break and returning on September 13th. Enjoy your summer and until September – the TWS Game changer team!
01:54 08.08.2022
Why do we cooperate and help others - Game theory & altruism | with Erez Yoeli
This episode is all about cooperation and altruism. Erez Yoeli explains how these concepts can be modelled using game theory, and which measures can be taken to increase altruism in different situations. He also shares the success story of the company Keheala, which uses game theoretic insights to foster altruistic behaviour in the healthcare context. Erez Yoeli is a research scientist at MIT's Sloan School of Management where he directs the Applied Cooperation Team. He is also co-author of the book "Hidden Games: The Surprising Power of Game Theory to Explain Irrational Human Behavior". His research interests are in the areas of altruism, game theory and cooperation.
47:18 01.08.2022
How clever fishermen outsmarted a uniform price auction | with Alex Teytelboym
In this episode Alexander Teytelboym walks us through the intricacies of uniform-price auctions. While often praised for their theoretical properties, putting them into practice successfully can turn out to be quite the challenge. Alex shares with us what can be learned about auction design from observing uniform-price auctions in the fishing industry and how game theory can explain fishermen’s bids that resemble "crank handles". This research by Alex is based on joint work with Sanna Laksa and Daniel Marszalec.   Alex Teytelboym is associate professor at the Department of Economics at the University of Oxford. His research interests are in the areas of market design and the economics of networks including their applications to environmental economics and energy markets, among others.
38:33 18.07.2022
Think like a Virus! Viewing the Pandemic through the Lens of Game Theory | with Joshua Gans
Think like a Virus! Viewing the Pandemic through the Lens of Game Theory | with Joshua Gans In this episode Joshua Gans shares his insights on the ongoing pandemic from a game theoretic perspective. He explains how he first got into the topic, why being deadly is generally not the best strategy for any virus, and how hidden information can help a virus thrive. Joshua then walks us through ways to counter a virus and how to prepare for the future.   Joshua Gans is professor of Strategic Management and holder of the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Rotman School of Management of the University of Toronto. His research interests are in the areas of technological competition and innovation, industrial organization and regulatory economics, among others. He is also author of several books such as "The pandemic information solution".
29:37 04.07.2022
Cross at red light? – Game Theory in traffic interaction and the impact of autonomously driving vehicles | with Jason Thompson
In this episode, Jason Thompson explains how Game Theory can help understand interactions on the roads and in traffic. We discuss agent-based-modelling and its application to analysing the behaviour of road users in traffic intersection. Jason gives examples on ‘different games’ at traffic intersections and compares the game induced by traffic regulations with the one originating from varying powers of the road users (e.g. truck vs cyclist). We also discuss how such interactions will change with the introduction and increase of autonomously driving vehicles. Jason Thompson is associate professor at University of Melbourne School of Design and School of Medicine. His interest, among other, is focused on the translation of research into practice across the areas of transportation, heavy-vehicle safety, and health system design.
20:49 20.06.2022
Digital Players & Future Markets – Game Theory in Machine Learning & Common Ownership topics | with Martin Schmalz
Digital Players & Future Markets – Game Theory in Machine Learning & Common Ownership topics | with Martin Schmalz   In this episode, Martin Schmalz explains what machine learning has to do with economics and game theory and its relationship to common ownership. He gives some practical examples for game theoretic situations in which machine learning is already used, and shows where potential benefits and risk for consumers might lie. In addition, we discuss the topic of common ownership – another one of Martins’ fields of research, i.e. situations in which individuals or groups simultaneously hold shares of competing companies in a market sector. According to Martin, this phenomenon occurs much more often than you might think. He explains its effect on competition and we discuss its potential for collusive market behaviour.   Martin Schmalz is professor of Finance and Economics at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School and co-author of the book 'The Business of Big Data'. His research interests, among others, are in the areas of financial economics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
25:04 06.06.2022
Playing nice – Trust and reputation in Game Theory, eCommerce and vaccinations | with Steve Tadelis
Playing nice – Trust and reputation in Game Theory, eCommerce and vaccinations | with Steve Tadelis In this episode we talk to Steve Tadelis about reputation and trust. He explains how he first got into the topic, what reputation means in the context of Game Theory and how even leaving no review at all could signal reputation on platforms like ebay. He also shows how powerful reputation and trust can be beyond the business context, e.g. when increasing vaccination rates with the help of Donald Trump.   Steve Tadelis is professor of economics, business and public policy at UC Berkeley. His research interests include the economics of eCommerce and incentives & organisations. On top of his academic experience he has worked as senior economist at Amazon and eBay.   In the episode, Steve mentions the following papers: Rational cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoners' dilemma, by David Kreps, Paul Milgrom, John Roberts and Robert Wilson Using Donald Trump’s COVID-19 Vaccine Endorsement to Give Public Health a Shot in the Arm: A Large-Scale Ad Experiment, by Bradley Larsen, Marc J. Hetherington, Steven H. Greene, Timothy J. Ryan, Rahsaan D. Maxwell & Steven Tadelis
34:04 23.05.2022
Feeling lucky! – On the game theoretic aspects of lotteries | with Nick Arnosti
In this episode, we discuss with Nick Arnosti the economic aspects of lotteries. Nick explains in which sense lotteries are a relevant economic mechanism, and gives some examples of where and why they are used. We focus in particular on the use of lotteries in the allocation of affordable housing in New York.   Nick Arnosti is assistant professor at the University of Minnesota. His research is focussed on systems for allocating public resources. During the interview, Nick mentions a paper which compares lotteries and waiting lists; this paper can be found here.
27:09 09.05.2022
“More art than science” – Translating game theoretic predictions into practical recommendations | with Eyal Winter
In this episode we are talking to Economics Professor Eyal Winter, who works as both an academic researcher and as a consultant who supports his clients in various auction settings. We discuss how consulting differs from theoretical research, and how to best behave in an auction setting. Eyal also shows how emotions can sometimes strongly influence people’s behaviour in auctions.   Eyal Winter is the Silverzweig professor of economics at the Hebrew University and the Andrews & Brunner professor at Lancaster University. His research interests are broadly spread, ranging from Behavioural Economics to Decision Making, Game Theory and Finance. He is also the author of the book “Feeling Smart - Why Our Emotions Are More Rational Than We Think”, in which he explores the use and logic in emotions.   During the interview, Eyal mentions a spectrum auction in New Zealand, which yielded a very disappointing outcome for the New Zealand government. More information on this auction can be found e.g. here and here.
35:46 25.04.2022
Backward Induction, Child Penalties and the Gender Pay Gap | with Carlotta Pilgram
Backward Induction, Child Penalties and the Gender Pay Gap | with Carlotta Pilgram In this episode we are talking to Carlotta Pilgram, Consultant at TWS Partners and Economics graduate from Lund University in Sweden. We discuss the role of Game Theory in analysing the gender pay gap, the current state of research, why many intuitive explanations have little explanatory power and what measures can be taken to reduce payment differences which can be traced back to gender. Carlotta Pilgram works as a Consultant at TWS Partners. Previously she has studied Economics at Lund University in Sweden, focusing on gender Economics and in particular payment inequality. She finished her Master's degree with her thesis entitled "Are Women leaving their Jobs before they are actually leaving", where she analysed potential economic causes for the gender pay gap. During the interview, Carlotta refers to a study by Marianne Bertrand et. al. from 2010, which can be found here.
16:00 11.04.2022
Good intentions, bad outcomes: why Game Theory matters in policy making | with Hannah Rubin
In this episode we are talking to Hannah Rubin about policy making, incentive structures and Game Theory in the world of sciences. Together we dig into why policies set up with the best intentions can backfire when existing incentive structures are not taken into account, e.g. when it comes to the goal of increasing diversity in grant applications, and how these policies could be improved. We discuss more generally what it takes to break out of existing structures in sciences such as e.g. the so called "peer-review-system". Hannah Rubin works as an Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. She is an Evolutionary Game Theorist, Philosopher of Biology and Philosopher of Science. In her research she uses game theory to understand how social structures come to be and how they evolve over time.
21:14 28.03.2022
What keeps our lights on? Strategic interactions in the electricity market | with Peter Cramton
In this episode, we talk to Peter Cramton about the electricity market. We discuss the 2021 Texas electricity crisis that left millions of Texans without electricity for four extremely cold days. Peter explains how understanding the crisis is important for markets everywhere. He shares with us that a reliable gas supply is essential for resilient electricity and Europe must reduce its dependence on Russian gas. Peter Cramton is Professor of Economics at the University of Cologne and the University of Maryland. His research is focused on auctions and market design. Applications include communications, electricity, and financial markets. His innovative market designs are seen worldwide.
36:05 14.03.2022
Chess, computers and game theory | with Daniel King
The game of chess has been around for centuries and still hasn't lost its touch which is demonstrated by the sheer number of professional and non-professional players and countless pop culture references. In this episode chess grandmaster Daniel King walks us through his very own journey from being a professional chess player to becoming author, live commentator and YouTuber and what it takes to come up with the perfect strategy. We talk about why chess theoretically can be solved but still hasn't lost its appeal as one of the most popular board games in history and how professional players' strategies have evolved due to the rise of powerful computers and machine learning.   Daniel King is known for being an English chess grandmaster, a well-known chess live commentator, an award-winning author of several books, a freelance journalist and many more. On top of that he has his own YouTube channel called PowerPlayChess where he shares knowledge and passion for all things chess.
36:27 01.03.2022
What Twitter can teach us about identity signaling | with Paul Smaldino
In this episode we talk to Paul Smaldino about identity signaling. He walks us through its definition, the most common examples of identity signaling like language or fashion choices and how game theory can be used to model it. He explains why it is sometimes wise to signal covertly rather than overtly, how this depends on the heterogeneity of groups and what experimental evidence from Twitter has to say about all this.   Paul Smaldino is associate professor of cognitive and information sciences at UC Merced. His research interests include social and cultural evolution, cooperation, communication, and the philosophy of sciences. He studies the feedback between individual behaviors and the sociocultural environments in which they are situated, using both empirical studies and theoretical models (e.g. Game Theory models).
35:41 15.02.2022
Let’s play - how to design mechanisms in board games | with Jamey Stegmaier
In this episode we talk to Jamey Stegmaier, a board game designer, taking a step away from pure game theory to talk about designing board games. He explains where he gets his initial ideas for new games and what makes a great board game from his perspective. Relating to mechanism design we discuss which mechanisms generate a good interactive game. Jamey also shares his experiences of publishing games through crowdfunding which he went through very successfully in the past.   Jamey Stegmaier is a board game designer and manages the publisher Stonemaier Games. He has designed numerous games, including Viticulture, Scythe, and Tapestry.
18:56 01.02.2022
Is inequity in society unavoidable? A few lessons from Evolutionary Game Theory | with Cailin O'Connor
In this episode we talk to Cailin O'Connor about inequity in society and how it can be modeled using evolutionary game theory. She explains that few conditions like the division of groups into social categories such as gender or race suffice to lead to stable inequitable patterns which persist over time. We discuss implications when it comes to gender and the division of labour or bargaining situations and why it is so difficult to break inequitable patterns. Cailin O'Connor is professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at UC Irvine. In her research she focusses on philosophy of biology and science, and evolutionary game theory. She is author of several books, such as "Games in the Philosophy of Biology", "The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread" and "The Origins of Unfairness: Social Categories and Cultural Evolution".
22:28 18.01.2022
How to make an offer the other side cannot refuse | with Lionel Page
In this episode we discuss with Lionel Page, professor of Economics at UTS, his recent research on starting offers in bargaining. We start with talking about the classical ultimatum game and how studies generated a seemingly contradiction to classical game theory. Lionel then explains how he extended the ultimatum game to understand how the value of the initial offer in a bargaining situation affects the outcome of the negotiation. Lionel Page is professor of Economics at University of Technology Sydney. In his research he focuses on Econometrics, Decision Theory, Sociology and Behavioral Economics. He studies the application to practical problems from areas of financial and prediction markets, education and inequality.
32:16 04.01.2022
Mechanism design explained by one of its founders | with Eric Maskin
In this episode we chat with Nobel Prize laureate Eric Maskin about why mechanism design calls for an engineering approach and which tools are needed to design economic mechanisms. We discuss what separates a bad from a good mechanism and how this knowledge can help market designers, whether the goal is to reduce carbon emissions or sell spectrum rights. Eric Maskin is professor of Economics and Mathematics at Harvard University. He has made countless contributions in the fields of Game Theory and Contract Theory, among others, and received the highest recognition when he won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2007 together with his fellow researchers Leonid Hurwicz and Roger Myerson for laying the foundation for the theory of Mechanism Design.
26:04 21.12.2021
How auctions conquered the internet | with Michael Ostrovsky
In this episode Michael Ostrovsky walks us through the history of online advertising auctions, from their modest beginnings at Yahoo and other internet pioneers to the lucrative business models many internet giants like Google and Amazon rely on today. Even though online ad auctions are a story of incredible success Michael also gives some insights into which flaws existed in its early days and how these were overcome as time passed.   Michael Ostrovsky is the Fred H. Merrill Professor of Economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a co-founder of the company Topsort which provides auction-based advertising infrastructure for online retailers and marketplaces. Not only is he an expert in all things auction theory, but he has also experienced the rise of online auctions in person while advising various internet pioneers.
41:25 07.12.2021
Cause and effect – or why the 2021 Nobel Prize is nothing less than an empirical revolution | with Paul Hünermund
In this episode Paul Hünermund explains why the Nobel prize in Economics this year was given to the three researchers David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens and what companies can learn from their research. We talk about how natural experiments sparked an empirical revolution and how machine learning can help us establish causal links to find the answer to everyday questions.   Paul Hünermund is assistant professor of Strategy and Innovation at Copenhagen Business School. In his research he focuses on how firms can leverage new technologies in the space of machine learning and artificial intelligence for value creation and competitive advantage. In doing so he employs a wide variety of tools from econometrics, machine learning, and the field of causal inference.
23:09 23.11.2021
A smarter way to save the climate | with Jos Cozijnsen
In this episode, we are talking to Jos Cozijnsen, carbon specialist at the Carbon Neutral Group. Jos explains how knowledge from Game Theory and Mechanism Design can help reduce carbon emissions. He explains in detail the cap & trade system in Europe which makes carbon credits tradeable. This market has introduced CO2 reduction certificates which are issued for a project where additional CO2 reductions have been accomplished. Such carbon credit or CO2 reduction certificate can be used to compensate own emissions. At the time of the recording the Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow is happening which Jos also attends.   Jos Cozijnsen is carbon specialist at the Carbon Neutral Group, he holds a Master in Law. Jos is supporting companies to lower their carbon footprint and their impact on the climate. He is well experienced in the carbon market and carbon pricing. He has recently published an article on this episode’s topic here.
26:46 09.11.2021
Evolutionary game theory or ‘Why you can trust a peacock’ | with Kevin Zollman
In this episode, we are talking to Kevin Zollman, professor of Philosophy and Social and Decision Sciences. Kevin explains how to use game theoretic concepts to study non-verbal communication between animals (and humans). From this perspective, seemingly useless or even costly features like the cumbersome tail of a peacock can be explained as costly (and therefore fraud resistant) signals to potential mating partners. We also discuss the limits of these concepts and alternative explanations that form the current state of research on this topic.   Kevin Zollman is professor of Philosophy and Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University in in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His research interests include many fields such as game theory, its biological applications, and the philosophy of science. He is also author of the recently published book “The Game Theorist's Guide to Parenting: How the Science of Strategic Thinking Can Help You Deal With the Toughest Negotiators You Know: Your Kids”
29:27 25.10.2021
Behind the Scenes of Sotheby's Auction House | with Eva Donnerhack
In this episode we are talking to Eva Donnerhack, Director, Specialist for Modern and Impressionist Art and Head of Sales Germany at Sotheby's. Together we take a look behind the curtain of preparing an auction in the world of art, discuss the importance of timing, stories and cultural differences and learn what art auctions and concerts have in common.   Eva Donnerhack is Director, Specialist for Modern and Impressionist Art and Head of Sales Germany at the auction house Sotheby's. As such she contributes to many of Sotheby's most promising auctions in London, Paris and New York and is well seasoned when it comes to all things auctions in the world of art.
31:31 11.10.2021
Are All Models Wrong? | with Scott Page
In this episode Scott Page, professor for Complexity, Social Science and Management at the University of Michigan, explains the value of models and their uses in different environments and disciplines including economics and in particular game theory. We talk about what to consider when setting up a model, how models capture "real life" and how to best apply them in a business context using game theory.   Scott Page is professor for Complexity, Social Science and Management at the University of Michigan. In his research he focuses on complex systems, collective intelligence, teams, and political and economic institutions. He is also the author of the book “The Model Thinker: What You Need to Know to Make Data Work For You”, explaining the value of models when it comes to making sense of data and complex phenomena.
27:10 27.09.2021