About a year ago I was having a conversation which turned to the subject of competition, a theme I find sort of repeats itself often times. I short changed a teaching aphorism by exclaiming competition such a waste of time; why bother with it at all? This didn't seem to make much impact so I changed tact and said:
"When faced with the opportunity to compete, I refuse and simply win instead." which certainly set the wheels of reason turning.
"How do you do that?" she asked, interested.
"I can't tell you, which means I've already shown you." I said, having already ejected myself from the competition concerning who was better at explaining the nature of competition.
"What?" confusion had set in, I guess.
The point of saying that was that the whole lesson of how to avoid competition and simply win was already contained within those few statements. It's not about being able to win any competition hands down, that would be insufficient for the victory conditions implied. If you notice you are being enticed into, subjected to, coerced into, or somehow embroiled in competition; the first step towards winning is realising you're competing. This is one of the fundamental principles of Game Theory.
The best way of recognising you are competing is to be very aware of what is happening and what you are doing about it. The best way to win any competition is to immediately terminate and/or change the interaction upon realising fierce competition is imminent. In games, this is a strategy known as "enhancing the branching factor", which enlarges the domain containing future actions. There is an equation (F = T ∇ Sτ) describing how intelligences best achieve this, formulated by Alex Wisser-Gross. An algorithmic explanation of this equation defines intelligent systems as wanting the best possible future, being one where they are unconfined. To resist confinement, intelligence predicts possible futures. Adjusting time horizons (τ) of predictions, so they are reliable enough to make decisions. From all possible states, a value for freedom of action (Sτ) is applied to each one. In this map of states, the state with the highest potential for future actions is chosen. This is the decision giving the most freedom and power. Achieving power enough to grant control of the future (which competition defines as a winning state) relies upon forming an understanding of a system's function and determining its current state. Now you move in that direction.
If the desired state is not effortlessly reachable, a force (F) has been imposed on the world against that direction. The force is intelligence. The temperature (T) represents the power or "resources" you have to reach the desired state. The more power you have, the more force you can impose. As competitions move, heat, and cool, acting intelligences constantly validate their desired state and adjust their actions to reach while expending the least effort. All adjustments further confine actors, not only because models of the future are only predictions, but because the time horizon closes, and as it progresses the future changes to reflect the reality of decreasing resources.
Obviously the optimal outcome of any competition is a behavioural change to co-operation, but this not always being possible there are many avenues of conduct open towards ending competition quickly. Fierce competition is about as immature a pastime as revenge. Intentionally choosing competitive behaviour over co-operative behaviour is insane, because you wind up doing the same things repetitively (even without expecting different results) and are subject to diminishing returns of reward for this behaviour. If you're competing, you're subject to more entropy than if you're co-operating. If you can't understand that, you're immature. I don't think can state that more simply.
Of course I don't believe this in a vacuum at all! Getting into the mathematics of co-operative communicating networks trumping over competitive networks in terms of qualities like: entropic density, robustness, growth and propagation speed, etc. is a subject for a bunch of well-researched scientific papers. All of which involve more analytical power than I'm willing to expend at this time of night. Suffice the idea of competition/co-operation has been extensively explored in computing science and I'll reference some of the interesting papers here in an edit [edit: Two interesting papers on deeply associated topics: Preferences, Choices, and Satisfaction in a Bargaining Game, Consistency and the Competitive Outcome Function, and the mathematically focused book: "Game Theory: Analysis of Conflict" by R. Myerson].
For now, I'm going to explore something else I've been writing about on and off for over a year as well. People are going to call me more crazy for this one, but it's straight out of Star Trek: Voyager's plea for "holographic rights" for digital citizens of the Federation, in that it is an extension of the same concept (when does a computer program, disregarding the issue of when the nature of it's intelligence makes it "alive" or not, deserve the affordance of some of the rights afforded human beings by nature of their existence inside consensual reality?).
I had an idea which hurt my head incredibly to give birth to. The idea is that ideas are living things, and must be treated with the same love with which we treat other living things.
Of course I qualified this heavily in previous writing, because hey, I didn't want to seem too "out there" which in retrospect is silly. But couching this concept in terms of "collaborative, free, open, public digital structures of data have assumed more of the properties of living things lately and this must be further considered" (I used the analogy of plants, and worked back from comparisons of tree-like data structures and the way we interact with them versus the way we interact with orchard plants) doesn't change its core; ideas are living things.
Not at all like the way we are alive, but they are still very much alive. Humans have a long history of rejecting and denying the existence of anything too alien after failing to understand it. That is okay, at every stage of existence there are some things which will be unable to be understood. However, align yourself in competition with a self-modifying idea, and you will lose before you've begun to do things the old way.
The only way forward is further co-operation. This IS the future, after all. Rejecting and denying its existence matters very, very little to the universe. :)