February 21, 2022

Prisoner’s Dilemma

Outcomes: Very bad, Bad, Ok, Good

  • Both cooperate: Both get an Ok outcome
  • One defects, one cooperates: Defector gets a Good outcome, cooperator gets a Very Bad outcome
  • Both defect: Both get a Bad outcome

Real-life examples

  • Driving - We’d all be better off if most people got the bus than drove, because traffic would be better and we get everywhere faster (Ok outcome) - But if everyone is getting the bus, I could drive (which is slightly more comfortable than taking the bus) and still benefit from the lack of traffic (Good outcome for me as the defector) - But everyone knows this, and no one wants to be the person stuck on the bus if everyone else if going to drive and cause traffic anyway (Very Bad outcome) - So everyone drives - And we are all worse off because traffic is terrible (Bad outcome for everyone)
  • Video call - Everyone likes to see everyone else’s video, but no one wants to keep their video on, especially if they are the only one with it on and everyone else has it turned off - But it’s really hard to have a productive conversation without seeing reactions and body language, so everyone would prefer to keep their video on if everyone else does than to have no video at all.