Mark Gritter (markgritter) wrote,
Mark Gritter

Despoilage Rights in Alternate-Universe Invasions

Abstract: When the Ancient Ones awake from their slumber, when the Invader fleet[*] finally arrives, when the Unspeakable Horrors from another dimension locate a portal; or the demon hordes escape Hell: how will they divide the Earth? Such entities may not be bound by the same laws of physics we understand, but it is certain that economic principles still apply. Even timeless beings must face the problems of allocating rivalrous goods.

Previous otherworldy invasions have attempted to bypass this problem by adopting hive-minds or other forms of individuality-elimination. Other forces rely upon central coordination through an "Overlord", regent, or other command economy. While superficially eliminating conflicts (though rivalries often remain, in practice) this approach only shifts the problem. As previous work has shown, a central controller cannot effectively optimize despoilage plans in the presence of heterogenous abilities, spatial/temporal limitations, and nonlinear acquisition costs. Numerous case studies have demonstrated the inability of even the best offline scheduling to handle interruptions caused by traitorous underlings, unexpected heroism, and the common cold.

In this paper, we present RAGNAROC, the Resource Allocation GeNeric Algorithm for Reduction, Oblivion, and Conquest. Based on a simple bidding model, actors (real, simulated, or paravirtual) conduct real-time auctions to identify the value and feasibility of a diverse range of conquest decisions, including domain allocation, force concentration, and spoil distribution. We demonstrate that the decisions arrived at through this process are resistant to all counterattacks from computationally-bounded adversaries, and are within a constant factor of optimal for all but unboundedly large environments. This approach allows local price discovery, bounded unfairness, varying utility across agents, and public verifiability by all participants. As a limited special case, we derive Austrian-school market principles.

[*] Ha. Remember that time Zim called, completely covered in meat?
Tags: economics, humor
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