Conway’s Game Of Life: How South Africa is set up to Die

In computer science Conway’s Game of Life is a cell automation game. It was devised by, the man, Conway himself. It has no active players in it. Only a set of rules that are applied iteratively until the game is unplayable anymore. As stipulated on Hack Rank, Game of life takes place on a 2D grid. A cell will be representative of an actor, individual, or race if you may. Each cell in the grid will be in one of the two possible states,

  • ALIVE, a state which will know represent being knowledgeable, or privileged, or embraced. And this state will be complemented by the state of being
  • DEAD, a state which will know represent being ignorant, or oppressed, or excluded.

The birth or death of a cell is based on the following rules.

  • A cell switches from DEAD to ALIVE if its surrounded exactly by 3 living cells.
  • A cell remains alive if its surrounded by 2 or 3 living cells.
  • A cell switches from being ALIVE to DEAD if its surrounded by more than 3 living cells because of over population. So in other words, a cell dies when overcrowded.
  • A cell switches from being ALIVE to DEAD if its surrounded by less than 2 cells because of under population. In other words a cell can also die from isolation.

Conway’s Game Of Life (And Death) in Action via Giphy

Now there I was waiting for the bus and this wonderful game came into my mind. It’s a simple game really. Which when setup well can keep playing forever and ever. Now lets define some conditions for the game. Let’s say there is a condition which we can call comfortable. Where each cell in the grid could live for the longest time possible, without the worry of an untimely death. Now it’s such comfort implicitly mean that such a cell is assured a chance of reproduction and guaranteed that its offspring will pretty much be born and live out there lives in this environment of comfort.

As good as such an environment sounds we need to know that setting up such an environment will require strategic use of resources, in this case the resources being our 2D grid. We would need to find a way ensure that a community of cells lives the most comfortable life know to cells. And ensure that no external cells interfere with our community of comfort.

This need leads to the definition of our next condition. Let’s call this condition a state of gloom. Where the only strategic placing of cells is done to ensure that cells don’t step out of their bounds and interfere with the life or death of the comfortable community which we found a place in our grid. This state of gloom will need to have cells overcrowding in some reasons, leading to cells dying because there just not enough resources, our grids, for them to take up. Actually in environments with overcrowding, unless the cells in the boundaries succeed in branching out, any cell which dies will effectively make room for a new one to take its place (Keep that point in mind).

Now we can’t really keep the cells too overcrowded, as that would mean that cells won’t have a high enough chance to produce many generations. So lets create another state. I think we can call this one the state of misery. In the state of misery cells are placed far from each other. The worry here is that cells are isolated from each other. Their chances of reproducing at a fast enough rate to still maintain the structure of society are slim. Cells in this block don’t have a guarantee of whether they will survive long enough to reproduce. Even if they do, they will probably not live long enough to see their offspring to better conditions. What ever remains in such an environment of isolation will probably be a skeleton of what was original there.

Even though our grid had to have some states disadvantaged, our resources (grid) are now be used purely to ensure that we can have a group of cells that thrive in comfort. Which in a nutshell is how I think South Africa was setup.

The current state of South African affairs is just a reaction to the injustice of placing which was forced on cells in a state of gloom/misery. When over 10 schools are go up in flames in Vuwani, it is a reaction to this state of gloom where communities of cells are excluded following under certain regions to allow more resources for communities that live in comfort. It becomes a state of frustration where no reaction could happen. Where even xenophobia is a misinformed kings speech from happening. This events of destruction will probably be among the last nails in the coffin which will be used to bury South Africa as we know it.

The game needs to be reset. There shouldn’t be a special community of cells whose comfort is put ahead of the lives of the rest. If this happens then at least the game of life could be a more calm motion picture then what we are seeing now.