Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Prisoner's Dilemma vs. Snowdrift and other games

I take the idea behind Prisoner's Dilemma
as a good rule for life. To 'win' (although winning in Prisoner's Dilemma is an Infinate rather than a Finite game, see my rules for life are something like this:

1. Give them the benefit of the doubt - be nice
2. If they take advantage, retaliate in kind.
3. Forgive and try being nice again.
4. If 2 and 3 keep repeating, walk away.

Snowdrift ( may be a better imitator of real life, but does not have the metaphorical value of Prinsoner's Dilemma.

Writing this also reminded me of an idea on a podcast (
The mind game was this. Imagine you are given some money and in order to keep some of it you must share it with me. You will only get one chance to make me an offer and if I refuse your offer, neither of us gets anything. What was interesting is that, in general, I will only accept an offer from you that I think is fair - if you get €100 and offer me €1 I will tell you to get stuffed, even though I will lose out on getting a euro. However, if you are a computer, I will be totally pragmatic and accept any offer you make.

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1 comment:

Phoebe Bright said...

Howard Rheingold's talk at TED 2008 talks a lot about what we can learn from the Prisoner's Dilemaas as an alternative model to might is right.