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Chimp Outperforms Human in Game

A game was set up in which two different players have two potential moves.  Each player can either choose to press button 1 or button 2. The catch is that player A wins if both players press the same button.  Player B wins if the two buttons differ.  This game is performed repetitively, forcing the players to predict their opponent’s next move in order to gain a reward.  The game can be modeled by the table shown below:



The interesting aspect of this game was that it featured a chimp against a human.  The surprising result was that the chimp outperformed the human.  In Camerer’s experiment described above, the chimp played a near ideal game, whereas the human was a ways away from theoretical predictions.  It is important to note that this game has no Nash Equilibria.  Each player either wins or loses, it is not possible for them both to get a reward from the same match.  Thus, it is absolutely a competition between the two players that depends on a player’s ability to predict based on their opponent’s recent move selection.

What this suggests is that chimps have a far superior memory and pattern recognition, as the chimp was better able to analyze the human’s moves and make predictions in order to win the game.  The dominant memory and strategic thinking of chimps has been seen before in other experiments.  Because they are so close to humans genetically, many have become fascinated by the differences in the two species’ cognitive abilities.  Chimps’ memories are considered photographic, but the same cannot usually be said about the memories of humans.  In fact, memories on par with chimps are extremely rare in humans.  The only comparable example rarely exhibits itself in babies, but is typically considered a case of savant syndrome anyway.


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September 2014