Game theory in the wild Feb 6 2013

This is an interesting blog post, taking a look at an application of game theory in relation to a problem generally referred to as a “prisoner’s dilemma”, but this time it’s playing out on a television game show.

Pretty clever stuff, but one thought I had is that while the strategy is pretty cunning, it does rely somewhat on not encountering a destructive opposition force. Specifically, what if you were playing someone who didn’t trust you, and had the mentality “if I can’t have it, no one can”? They would choose to steal the money, knowing that if you followed through on your ultimatum, neither of you would win, and that if you were bluffing, they would win the lot.

The theory here is ballsy, and sides with the odds (and basic, compassionate, trusting human nature) - but isn’t without its own risks, given that in a case like this, you don’t really know the person you are playing against.

A more recent and in depth look at the logic behind the “prisoner’s dilemma” is here, and goes into a nice level of detail (along with links to some web based simulators) on the best strategies when playing the game. It too includes a link to a clip from the same game show, albeit a different clip, with a rather surprising result.

game theoryprisoners dilemma