Prisoner's Dilemma and the Fight Capstone Project
Excerpt from Capstone Project :
Prisoner's Dilemma situations are more common than some might actually think they are, as most people often come across them in their daily lives. Given the fact that Axelrod has a background in political science, he observed that PD is frequently encountered in the U.S. Senate. Senators are accustomed to helping out their colleagues, as they are perfectly aware that their assistance will materialize in their colleagues repaying them. The help that U.S. senators provide to their colleagues ranges from trading votes to attracting voters for them. One can actually claim that reciprocity is one of the most important factors in the U.S. Senate (Axelrod, p. 5).
However, it appears that matters in the senate were not always like this, and, that just a few decades ago senators seemed more willing to support concepts like deceitfulness and falseness instead of assisting each-other. Surprisingly, people in the U.S. Senate have become willing to cooperate as a result of them wanting to follow their own interests and realizing that the best method of doing so is by collaborating (Axelrod, p. 5).
By understanding what influences individuals to cooperate in spite of the fact that they mainly want to follow their own interests, one can apply these settings in another situation, making others interested in cooperating for their own well-being.
Cooperation between several individuals without the assistance of a central authority was proved to be possible, even though it did not seem like an achievable performance. Individuals appear to be forced to cooperate by their own interests, as they are perfectly aware that they would end up with nothing in the long-term if they do not cooperate.
Cooperation can be done for a series of reasons, and, while it might seem that particular people are willing to cooperate because of the concern that they have for others, it is possible that they also do so in order to satisfy their own interests. "If a sister is concerned for the welfare of her brother, the sister's self-interest can be thought of as including (among many other things) this concern for the welfare of her brother" (Axelrod, p. 7) in the bigger picture, a country can assist another because of the apparent concern that it has for this country, but, in reality, this help can be a result of the benefits that the first country could come across as a result of helping the latter. Cooperation cannot merely resume to the concerns that one has for another, as it is mainly controlled by the interests that each player has.
If all individuals in a football team were to follow their own interests (related to becoming famous), chances are that the team will have lesser chances of qualifying for the final. However, if they were to consider that their team's reputation would automatically benefit them, they would probably be more interested in helping their teammates, so that the team scores as many points as possible.
When a good player finds himself playing in an amateur team, it would be better for them to attempt to become renowned by struggling to achieve as many points as they can, regardless if their teammates succeed in scoring any points. Thus, such a player would be aware that the best solution for him to satisfy his needs is to follow his own interests, instead of following the team's interests. In contrast, if another player in the football team (who is equally as good as the first) cooperates instead of wanting to get all the glory, it is most likely that he will end up with little to no points, while the first player would become famous.
Prisoner's Dilemma situations are not supposed to involve a winner and a loser eventually, but a person that has more points than the other. Moreover, one's success does not depend on their partner's failure and the best method of scoring as many points as one can possibly score would be for them to adapt to their partner's behavior.
When two players engage in a Prisoner's Dilemma game which they know has a limited number of rounds, they will both be inclined to defect at the last move because it is the safest and best solution to score points, with no other moves left to influence each other's behavior.
During any prisoner's dilemma game, players rapidly see the opportunity of taking advantage of their opponents. This is partially beneficial for them, as they would be assisted by their
partners in scoring points. However, they are not likely to attain a great result, as 'the reward for mutual cooperation is greater than the average of the temptation and the sucker's payoff" (Axelrod, p. 10). Cooperation is almost certainly to emerge if the game has an imprecise number of interactions. Before making a move, every player has to study the history of interaction with the other players, so as to have more chances of predicting their moves.
Certainty is never present in a Prisoner's Dilemma game, as no one can ever be sure that a particular player will make a particular move at a particular time. Also, a player cannot determine another player's move by studying his or her interactions with the other players. A trustworthy reputation can only be valued through one's interaction with another player, not through the other player's interaction with the rest of the players.
The Prisoner's Dilemma is also related to the free-rider problem, and, apparently, "many economists have emphasized the difficulty of international negotiations on global warming caused by the "free-rider problem," in which the individual country has an incentive to take advantage of the benefits of carbon abatement by other nations without bearing the cost of restricting its own emissions" (Cline, p. 325). If a country chooses to get actively involved in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases while other countries do nothing about it, its efforts would end up having little or no success. On the other hand, if other countries join the first in its struggle, there will most positively be a significant reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases.
For most countries, the best solution to fighting global warming would be not to take action at all. The costs needed to undergo such a process would be much greater than the benefits that one would have to expect from it. If all of the other countries engage in fighting global warming, an individual country can also benefit from the process. Fighting global warming would mean that a country would have to deprive its people of several benefits, and, concomitantly, share the benefits of its struggle with the whole world.
Being the three largest fossil fuel burners, the United States, Russia, and the People's Republic of China would have to join forces in beginning a program destined to limit the greenhouse gases emitted by themselves. Concomitantly, the three world powers should negotiate with all the other countries with the intention of reducing worldwide emissions of toxic gases.
A large number of countries have taken various actions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, accounting for a somewhat significant decrease in the greenhouse gas release. It is curious that despite the fact that the whole globe benefits from ameliorating the process of global warming, most countries do not hesitate when it comes to their taking part in the course of action. These countries do so even when they observe that other large industrial countries are reluctant to join the fight.
The fight against global warming can be understood through the fact that each country undergoing it is mainly interested in its own problems and knows that it can benefit from part taking in the process. The benefits of fighting against global warming are equal for all countries around the world and some might consider that it is pointless for them to join, as they can simply exploit others. However, cooperating in reducing greenhouse emissions also involves other factors, such as the ones related to international cooperation in several occasions, not just the one concerning global warming.
If one country chooses to stand and do nothing while the others participate in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it faces the risk of influencing other countries to do the same. Eventually, global warming will continue to threaten the planet's well-being, since there would be no one to stop it.
Reciprocity is a key element in greenhouse gas reductions, with countries being influenced by the actions taken by others at the time when they have to decide their position on the overall effort. There are also other factors which can influence a country's desire to participate in the fight against global warming, such as local pollution and environmental problems.
Choosing to take action against global warming is seen as a great risk for the countries which decide to do so. However, these countries are most likely willing to be the first…
Sources Used in Documents:
1. Axelrod R. (1984). The Evolution of Cooperation. New York: Basic Books.
2. Baert Wiener J. (1999). Global Environmental Regulation: Instrument Choice in Legal Context. Yale Law Journal 108.4
3. Behreandt D. (18 Sept. 2006). "Global Warming Too Hot or Not? The Theory of Global Warming Proposes That Man's Activities Are Causing the Earth to Heat Up, but There Is Compelling Scientific Evidence That Does Not Support This Conclusion," the New American.
4. Clemons E.K. Schimmelbusch H. "The Environmental Prisoners' Dilemma or We're All in This Together: Can I Trust You to Figure it Out?" Retrieved May 6, 2010, from the Warton School of the University in Pennsylvania Web site: http://opim.wharton.upenn.edu/~clemons/blogs/prisonersblog.pdf
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