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Game Theory

The Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma

As a single game theory scenario, the prisoner's dilemma is a thought experiment revealing the shortcomings of selfishness. But when treated as an iterative game, it gains a strategic dimension and becomes a powerful working model for understanding human cooperation.

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The Tragedy of the Commons

The game of tic-tac-toe has simple rules, a limited number of moves, and equal chances for both sides. If both players understand the game, it is almost impossible to avoid a draw. As ecologist and philosopher Garrett Hardin noted in his 1968 paper The Tragedy of the Commons, tic-tac-toe has "no technical solution." Sure, there might be ways to win by thinking outside the box:

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The Prisoner's Dilemma

When is our own self-interest best served by going against what reason tells us is our own self-interest?

The prisoner's dilemma is a game theory scenario designed to answer that exact question. The scenario usually looks something like this.

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