Google Analytics

Monday, May 31, 2010

24: Really Bad Game Theory, technology, and science

The TV show 24 aired its last episode on May 24. The show used computers and technology ALOT, more than on most shows. Was it realistic? What it interesting?
  1. Bad Game Theory: When two sides are negotiating you can have interesting sceanrios like Prisoners Dilemma. OR you can have stupid scenarios like on 24:
    1. The bad guys threaten to do XXX unless the USA does YYY. Here is the problem with this sceanrio: Even if we do YYY we have NO GUARANTEE that they won't still do XXX. The bad guys don't need some sort of credibility for later deals. This happened alot and the USA often got doublecrossed in some fashion.
    2. The Good Guys tell some bad guy they have captured: If you tell us the plot we will give you immunity. Why should the bad guy believe that we will let them go? This is not a public court of law.
  2. Bad portrayal of technology:
    1. It takes Chloe less time to break into the NSA's secure computers then it takes me to log on to NSF's FASTLANE.
    2. Jack had crucial evidence that he wanted to get out to the public! It never dawns on him to upload to the web. Why not? Because then the show would be called 16 instead of 24.
  3. Bad Science.
    1. In the show the USA has had two nuclear devices detonated on its soil during the show. That does not seem to have had any real bad consequences.
    2. Can someone really be awake 24 hours and still function pretty well? To be fair, there was a season where Jack was clinically dead for 20 minutes. Does that count as a nap?
  4. Politics.
    1. A Right Wing Propaganda show as it shows America has real nasty enemies and must use torture (which always works on this show).
    2. (This has been much less commented on). A Left wing show as we often see that the people funding the terrorists are often oil companies or even our own Government (only when its under a Republican Prez). Of the presidents we have seen on the show the best one was a Democract (David Palmer) and the worst one was a Republican (Charles Logan).
Having said all this, why did I watch it for 8 seasons?
  1. I watched it on treadmill, and it was the best treadmill show EVER!
  2. The funniest show on television! Examples: (1) In one room of the White House some people are trying to convince the President to pardon Jack for his torturing of bad guys in the past. In a different room Jack is torturing a senator's aid. (2) An innocent person is arrested without cause. There is much debate about the ethics of this. All of that debate goes out the window when we find out the innocent is not so innocent and in fact is the main bad guy. Hilarious! They make you think they will be making a serious point and then undermine it.

11 comments:

  1. I've been awake for longer than 24 hours on several occasions without anyone noticing that I was less functional. I try not to do it too often - that's probably not healthy.

    Granted, maths assignments are probably less energy-intensive than whatever it that Jack Bauer does (I've never actually watched the show).

    ReplyDelete
  2. > Can someone really be awake 24 hours and still function pretty well?

    Ask any medical resident who works 30 hour shifts... it sucks, but you can still function.

    ReplyDelete
  3. alot != a lot

    ReplyDelete
  4. As the other anonymous said, a lot != alot. An alot is an imaginary creature. Read this for more details: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/04/alot-is-better-than-you-at-everything.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. Where were the nukes detonated? In real life, there have been a lot more than two nukes detonated on American soil, very few of them had significant negative consequences.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love your comment that 24 was great treadmill viewing. Often, the best media to consume is based on the situation. For example, some books make excellent books-on-tape for driving (e.g. On the Road for a road trip through the California's Central Valley). Other books are best when read in a discussion group format. Another situation is airplane reading. Some people read trashy things while on the treadmill (think People or Cosmo) because it is a little reward.

    I would love to see ratings for media that are situation dependent. So, top Treadmill TV series, top road-trip books-on-tape, top commuting books-on-tape, top movies to watch alone, or top-reading-group complexity papers.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It is not left wing or right wing, it is idiotic. The amount of propaganda in US for justifying torture is ridiculous, one feels that we are back to dark age again. Read the Geneva convention, which US government is continuously violating, but there is no power to try it, so there is no problem, just make the Americans feel it is OK and the business can go the same forever, and from time to time put a new face to the old policies to make people feel something has changed.

    ReplyDelete
  8. For those who haven't seen: CollegeHumor's 24: The Unaired 1994 Pilot"

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's not just 24 that frequently depicts torture. Many cop shows one way or another, sooner or later, have one of the detectives leave the room for coffee while the other detective does something nasty to extract information.

    I think one of the reasons could be the fact that real, successful interrogations are probably highly personal and lengthy, which doesn't fit in the action-action-commercial-break TV format, so they just beat it out of the guy to proceed swiftly to the car chase scene.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "The bad guys threaten to do XXX unless the USA does YYY. Here is the problem with this sceanrio: Even if we do YYY we have NO GUARANTEE that they won't still do XXX. The bad guys don't need some sort of credibility for later deals. This happened alot and the USA often got doublecrossed in some fashion."
    As you already said this is how it also works in real life more often than not, so I wouldn't necessarily see this as a flaw (it's not a show designed for game theorists, is it?). It heavily depends on XXX and the bad guys intentions if they have incentive to do XXX regardless of YYY (see http://blogs.nature.com/basanta/2008/01/20/the-ransom-game for an interesting example).
    In particular if XXX involves a lot of casualties or the end of the world and YYY is just money, just applying math may not be seen (by voters, threatened or their relatives e.g.) as the best way to solve this problem.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I agree it is all over the board.. Left and right they touch all hot spots on 24. I Love the show but come on man there is no way!!

    ReplyDelete