Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things About the Prisoners Dilemma...and how environmental issues and political stalemates occur.

#1)In the prisoner's dilemma game, there are two players who are both faced with a decision: to either cooperate or defect. The decision is made by the player with no knowledge of the other players choice. If both cooperate, they receive a specific punishment or reward . If both defect they receive a larger punishment. However, if one defects, and one cooperates, the defector receives a large reward and the cooperator a punishment . The game is often expressed in the canonical form in terms of pay-offs.
#2)We're all playing whether we know it or not.
#3)A more complex definiton of thePrisoner's Dilemma
#4) A game using the game theory of the prisoners dilemma here.
#5) Another online game
#6)This game theory can be applied to many situations in life.
#7) We gamble other people will quit driving a car then we won't have to.
#8)We gamble other people will stop corporate pollution.
#9)We gamble other people will stop using an air conditioner so we don't have to.
#10) We gamble other people will pressure world leaders to work for OUR benefits, instead of their personal agendas.
#11)We gamble other peoples children will fight our wars for us.
#12)We gamble other people will solve world health issues, like AIDS, and food and water conservation and distribution.
#13)A quote from an academic text exploring environmental solutions when humans are focused on selfish strategies.
It is clear that the whole issue of how competing subsystems can start to cooperate and thus become (partly or completely) integrated into a globally optimizing supersystem is very complex. Many questions about cooperation,
shared information, and higher levels of control still have to be answered. Yet I think it is equally obvious that these problems are of the utmost importance if we wish to understand our own further evolution, as
individuals, as a species, as a culture, or as parts of the global world system. In particular, we must look for an answer to the
question whether evolutionary development will take place basically between individuals, developing in the form of Turchin's "superbeing", or within individuals, leading to what I have called a "metabeing".

These answers will be especially needed if we wish to develop a new ethics, based on evolutionary insights, that might help us to cope with the problems of our present society. The analysis of the evolution of cooperation from the viewpoint of selfish memes, or more generally shared replicators, as contrasted to more traditional studies focusing on either genes, individuals, or society as a whole, is definitely helpful as a heuristic to discover new mechanisms, that may simplify previously intractable seeming problems. But the real hard work has merely started.

About Thursday Thirteen


Gardenia said...

Can't see competing subsystems EVER cooperating - something about operating out of the limbic brain or the reptillian brain? I put in my URL - but I'm not sure what for. But it sure would be nice.

mister anchovy said...

Speaking of games, I stumbled across a reference to Blogshares the other day. It seems people are pretending to buy and sell blogs out there. Mister Anchovy is worth $22,005.82. Too much fun!

Minerva Jane said...

The problem with developing a new ethics based on evolutionary insights is that there are still so many who simply refuse to accept evolutionary theory at all. And judging from the number of uneding unresolved political conflicts in the world--ie middle east--I fear that we may never be ablet to cooperate. But all this is fascinating. I know nothing about game theory but am interested to read more. Your posts are always so thought-provoking candy.

Candy Minx said...

Good morning, glad to see visitors already.

Yes, there is something about us that refuses to see that change doesn't alway mean sacrifice.

We don't need to suffer personally to cooperate. We just need to do things differently.

Norma said...

This must keep your mind really sharp. Sort of makes me think of Democrats.

My TT is up.

Kelly Curtis said...

I learned something today! Never heard of this stuff before.

Thanks for stopping by my TT!

Anonymous said...

We use that game all the time in Intro Psych classes. This was an interesting use of the game to read. I may print it.

Southern Girl said...

Intresting list! I've never heard of this game, but it sounds like it would be fascinating.

Thanks for visiting my blog! :)

Barbara said...

Never heard of this game. Not too late to learn something new.

Thanks for visiting.

Lisa said...

YIKES! That boggles my head!! Will have to come back after a pot or 12 of coffee!

Thanks for stopping by Snarkypants!

Tink said...

That's very interesting! Gets me thinking...
Thanks for visiting my blog!

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of this game. But having a degree in Sociology it sure makes me think. I may have to check more of this out once I'm more awake :)

Darla said...

That's a very interesting... and uncomfortable way of looking at a lot of issues. I've always liked the Prisoner's Dilemma, and the conflict of trust and self-interest.

Julie said...

Very interesting,Candy! Definitely makes you think.

Buttercup said...

I haven't heard it called the Prisoner's Dilemna but we discussed these issues in Property Class. We talked about a communal rights theory and how the existence of freeloaders or holdouts causes transaction costs for everyone else. I can't remember the name of the theory...


Easier to just shoot everyone I'd have thought. 'Cept me of course.

Renee Nefe said...

head hurts just thinking about it all.

Thanks for stopping by my garden

Anonymous said...

I had never heard of this before either; it's all really very interesting, isn't it? Good TT!

raknak said...

I think maybe the prisoner's dilemma doesn't adequately/completely capture the issues involved with environmental perservation. It doesn't seem right to me that it's always either cooperate or screw the other person

(random bit of trivia, several years ago, I read an article that the best algorithm that had been created to date for success of entities in computerized version of the PD was to always cooperate with someone until they screwed you, then always to screw them...this seems like there's GOT to be a better way for humans to work, but back to my original point).

I've been thinking a lot about environmental preservation lately. You could say I pretty much work for the "man" so maybe this is a manifestation of guilt. Regardless, I feel that a lot of the reason that, for instance, corporations don't do the right things environmentally is that the economy/market is not properly set up to encourage these things (markets are set up in a way that generally rewards underinvesting in shared infrastructure or shared "good" like environmental protection, it's known as the tragedy of the commons). Other reasons (again, my opinion) stem from a focus on near-term results (quarterly financial reporting encourages this) and a belief in / focus on limited core competencies. This second bit is one reason that recycling industrial waste, while it could be profitable, isn't done. A really cool example of this actually working out is the company/process described in this article from Discover called "Anything into Oil" linked here:
(actually, there are a few articles you can find at about this...this one is just the first that comes up from a search).

Hmm...this is a long comment. I should probably get back to work.

Candy Minx said...


I did not notice your comment here till now, I am very sorry to have missed your visit. I am sure you won't be coming back to this post especially since I didn't even come and respond. Please forgive me.

You have made some wonderful comments here and thank you for the links. I will really enjoy checking these out!

I think it is a big lesson to learn the value and surrender involved in the metaphor of the Prisoners Dillema. I know, it doesn't seem fair...but isn't a double compromise better than have and have-nots? This way accepting the limitations of SHARING cooperation we all will have something. if not...will we have anything environmentally or ethically worldwide?

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