The prisoner’s dilemma
First of all, let us recall a proverb. ‘One boy is one boy. Two boys are half a boy. Three boys are no boy at all.’ It also translates as ‘one monk goes to drink water; two monks drinks together while three monks have no water to drink’. Now suppose you are one of the three monks, will you go far away to take water? If you do, the other two may have water to drink without effort; if you don’t and nor do the other two, you all will die of thirst. This is to some extent a prisoner’s dilemma, which is my topic today. The PD is a game in game theory that shows why individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so.
I heard the prisoner’s dilemma from my economics class’s teacher and later I found out this dilemma almost happen every day and everywhere, so I’d like to inform this concept to all of you.
Next I will explain and analyze the prisoner’s dilemma and after that give examples.
The normal game form is shown as this:
Suppose there are two prisoners and the police decides to sentence them by asking. Each prisoner has two choices. Stay silent to plead guilty himself or betray the other prisoner. The punishment for each situation shows in the chart.
| Prisoner B stays silent
| Prisoner B betrays
Prisoner A stays silent
| Each serves 1 year
| Prisoner A: 3 years Prisoner B: goes free
Prisoner A betrays
| Prisoner A: goes free
Prisoner B: 3 years
| Each serves 2 years
What will the prisoners do? The choice question comes again. If we suppose the prisoners can’t talk to each other. For prisoner B, if A stays silent (1year or 3years)B would better betray; and if A betray it’s also better for B to betray. Generally B should betray. In the same way, A should betray. But what if the prisoners can talk to each other? Obviously both staying silent is better than both betraying. So far it seems that we’ve covered all the situations of the...
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