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There's a lot of really strong dynasty analysis out there, especially when compared to five or ten years ago. But most of it is so dang practical-- Player X is undervalued, Player Y's workload is troubling, the market at this position is irrational, and take this specific action to win your league. Dynasty, in Theory is meant as a corrective, offering insights and takeaways into the strategic and structural nature of the game that might not lead to an immediate benefit but which should help us become better players over time.
Turing Tests and Philosophy of Mind
Alan Turing is a giant in the field of computer science. A relatively recent film covers the role he played in developing a codebreaker that was vital to the Allies' efforts to defeat the Germans in World War II. But perhaps his most enduring legacy is in the field of artificial intelligence.
In 1950, Turing wrote a paper titled "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" that opens with "I propose to consider the question, 'Can machines think?'" before discarding the question as fuzzy and poorly defined. (If one gathered six philosophers of mind in a room and asked them to define "thought", one is liable to get eight different definitions in response.)
Instead, Turing asked whether machines could be capable of winning something he called the imitation game (also the title of the aforementioned film). The game's mechanics are thus: two participants hold a conversation back and forth via text. A third observer watches the conversation knowing that one participant is a human and the other is a computer program. If the observer is unable to determine which participant is which, the computer has won the imitation game. This concept is still influential today, though it is so thoroughly associated with Turing that it is now known as a Turing test.
Perhaps you expect us to segue now into the rise of natural-language chatbots such as OpenAI's ChatGPT, but we shall not. There's plenty of debate over whether modern large language models, or LLMs, are capable of passing the Turing test or even what it would mean if they could. (Many of those pesky philosophers of mind would argue that passing the Turing test still doesn't indicate intelligence.)
Instead, I want to discuss a fun way that the Turing test has been co-opted into a game played entirely by humans: an Ideological Turing Test.
In an Ideological Turing Test, humans attempt to demonstrate how well they understand a position they disagree with by arguing as if they agreed with that position. If they can convince someone who believes that position that they share that belief, then they have passed the Ideological Turing Test and demonstrated that they fully understand the other side of the argument.
One does not need to pass an Ideological Turing Test to argue against a position. Many of my readers would be able to offer a wealth of evidence that the Earth was round to anyone who claimed otherwise-- the curvature of the horizon, the shadow of the Earth on the moon, photographs from space, and so on. One can easily refute flat-Earth beliefs without actually understanding those beliefs.
But passing an Ideological Turing Test represents a much higher threshold. One must actually grapple with and fully understand the arguments flat-Earth believers might make in support of their point to such a degree that said believers are willing to accept your mastery. If you can make an argument as well as any of its adherents, it carries that much more weight when you disagree with it, anyway.
Last week, I wrote how if all else was equal, it's a net positive to concentrate as much roster value into as few spots as possible in dynasty. To complete the Ideological Turing Test, today I will argue just the opposite (hopefully every bit as convincingly).
The Philosophy and Mechanics of Throwing Darts
A major flaw in the "studs and duds" approach to roster-building is that it treats players as binaries. Either they are stars, or else they are not stars. This creates significant issues.
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