The Sophisticated Answer To The Prisoner’s Dilemma: Tit For Tat

In my undergraduate studies I was paid to participate in game theory sessions within the economics faculty. The (flawed) assumption of game theory (and a lot of economics) is that individuals are rational.

Anyway, The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a simple modeling tool to understand decisions, and to understand complex systems (definition: “large networks of simple interacting elements which, following simple rules, produce emergent, collective, complex behavior.”)

If you need the rules of the ‘game’ – here you go.

It turns out that the best approach to this ‘game’ is surprisingly simple. Tit for tat wins out every time.

One of the take aways from the MOOC I recently completed on complexity was Robert Axelrod’s conclusions on this outcome. It is quite beautiful, and showcases the blending of simple rules creating emergent, complex behavior. Put simply:

  • Be nice
  • Be forgiving
  • Be retaliatory
  • Be clear.
tit-for-tat
from Introduction to Complexity MOOC – Sante Fe Institute

Good things will come to those who cooperate. Now, let us map this idea to our own emergent, complex networks and environments. How do we survive and thrive amidst the tumult?! Well, start with the above set of practices, and (statistically) you will win the day.

Hooray for complexity.

←This Much We Know.→

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2 thoughts on “The Sophisticated Answer To The Prisoner’s Dilemma: Tit For Tat

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