Who Said Economics Are Not Useful?

Wonder why no one thought of this before?  Prisoner's Dilemma as a game show.  Two players with two choices with rewards structured similar to a classic prisoners dilemma game (though not quite -- to be exactly the same the return of steal-steal should be higher than the returns of picking split in split-steal).


  1. NL_:

    It was a game show before.


    I don't remember it much, other than it required players to defect or ally.

    Of course, Survivor and Big Brother are multiplayer versions of the same thing, except in a winner take all (or nearly all) structure.

  2. eddie:

    I've sometimes referred to "Deal or No Deal" as "The Risk Aversion Measurement Show".

    Of course, the idea that the players on DoND are even boundedly-rational is undermined by the sight of them agonizing over which suitcase numbers to pick during each round of case-openings. So stupidity probably swamps any potential measurement of risk aversion that the observed dealmaking behavior would provide.

    As in real life.

  3. Christopher Tozzo:

    It's not a Prisoners' Dilemma when the opponents get to communicate.

  4. Barak A. Pearlmutter:

    @Tozzo: Yes, it can still be Prisoner's Dilemma even if the opponents can communicate, as long as they cannot see each others' move before choosing their own.

    @MainAritcle: However, this particular game in this particular show was *not* Prisoner's Dilemma, because there is no benefit to player B for defecting when player A defects. It was closer to "Chicken." Here, by offering to split the money, he made the payoff matrix (in expectation, given that there was a non-zero chance that he'd carry through on his promise) actually that of Chicken. And he then tried to adopt one of the optimal strategies for Chicken, which is "full commitment". In the classic formulation, this is detaching your steering wheel and holding it up so the other driver can see that you are unable to swerve.

  5. blokeinfrance:

    When you reiterate PD you find the prisoners pretty soon conspire to agree, thus get the enhanced total reward.
    What happens when you "iterate" (change the players, run the game again)? In limited populations, tit for tat wins.
    What happens after N runs when you eliminate most defectors? Tit for tat does this.
    A strategy of tit for 2 tats comes out in front.

    This has been done in the lab and on computer runs. Something to think about when comparing the OT and the NT?

  6. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States:


    Actually, the strategy of "tit for tat with forgiveness" is the optimal strategy in random-length runs. The forgiveness acts to stop endless chaotic reapplications of tit for tat for tit for tat...

    In casual social situations, "where what goes around" is potentially able to "come back around", the best policy is decency and charity. That's why otherwise deadly single-encounter policies like forgiveness, charity, mercy, and magnanimity manage to survive as social behaviors.

    It turns out that Gandhi was wrong -- his exclamation, "an Eye for an Eye only makes the whole world blind!" is patently wrong, and Game Theory, via IPD, applied to the real world shows it.

    "An Eye for an Eye, with forgiveness" is built into the way the universe works. So the original Jewish maxim, tempered with Christian charity, is in the design of the universe. That may not be a Sign from God, but it does say which religion is closest to "Truth" when it comes to human behavior...

    The biggest problem with this gameshow is that it's a single-encounter situation... so the iterated aspect of the PD isn't really applicable. So the pure, dismal, non-iterated PD rules apply, and you should work to screw your opposition over.

    And the above is also able to show that the Democrat-Libtard policy of endless decency without repercussions is actually the WORST policy, you get murdered every time by the wolves. You have to show that you're willing to strike back the first time they try and screw you -- and I'd argue the results of the two attacks on the WTC show that. At least one reason there have been no subsequent terrorist attacks is that the opposition knows we'll strike back now, something they believed was not the case before -- as Bin Laden's own comments following the 1993 attack showed. It's not been the solo cause, but I'd lay very good odds that's factored into any choices along those lines as a serious downcheck.

  7. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States:

    >>> The forgiveness acts to stop endless chaotic reapplications of tit for tat for tit for tat…

    BTW, this kind of thing shows in cases where some guy gets gunned down in a cafe in Lebanon or something with the perp claiming that the victim's grandfather killed his grandfather. One reason that sort of thing isn't found as much in modern Western culture much is the Christian charity "enough!!" attitude.

  8. markm:

    IgotBupkis: Tit for tat with forgiveness works well in lawless societies - until something happens that's traumatic enough to be burned into the relatives' memories long after all the other circumstances are forgotten. And then you get tit for tat with escalation, which just has to end badly...

    The problem is that human memory is anything but a tape recorder. To start with, you see a lot less than you think you do - your mind fills in the gaps. Then, every time you remember an event, you re-write your memory. Go over it a few times, and you'll firmly remember seeing something that you originally guessed must have happened while you were looking elsewhere...

    Second, memories are highly selective. When it's moderately unpleasant, you'll forget the bad and remember the good. E.g., as a kid 50 years ago, I lived one year in Minneapolis. I can clearly remember walking six blocks to school in glorious weather, but I draw a complete blank on the 20-below days. OTOH, evolution has made sure you'll never forget the really bad events - it's not good to ever forget about your sister swelling up and dying after eating the red berries, or that hyenas ate your brother.

    Applied to social interactions, this means that minor wrongs won't poison your relationship with your neighbors forever. If they stole a pig just once, eventually that will be forgotten and forgiven. But if they caught your grandpa stealing pigs and killed him, you'll remember the killing and forget about the pigs. And they'll remember that, not only are your whole family damned pig thieves, but your father bushwacked their grandpa "for no reason".

    So the real problem is that humans evolved in a world where there were many things more deadly than us - but that's no longer true.