The prisoners’ dilemma is a way of putting into a scheme a series of human actions that can be taken in a given situation where both competitors must collaborate. Although it is a scheme that only occasionally represents reality, the dilemma is a very interesting and valid way of seeing certain situations.
Come and understand more about the prisoners’ dilemma, how this situation is extremely impactful and can help you make decisions in the future.
What is the prisoners’ dilemma?
The prisoners’ dilemma is a way of putting different situations into a framework of human possibilities. In this dilemma we have two prisoners captured and placed in two separate cells with no communication. For both prisoners, the guards give the following options:
- Confess the crime, betraying the partner;
- Remain silent.
Within these two possibilities, there are at least 3 different combinations that can generate different results.
- If a prisoner confesses to cheating on his partner, the one who confessed will go free while the one who remained silent will face 10 years in prison;
- If both remain silent, each will face 1 year in prison;
- If the two confess and betray each other, both will only get 5 years in prison.
This is not a moral dilemma, but a dilemma to get the best result by weighing risks and rewards. And rationally, trying to get the best possible result without taking too many risks, the best strategy is to cheat.
Although it doesn’t seem very moral, the two prisoners have no idea of each other’s situation. Therefore, they cannot bet that their partner will not cheat.
So staying silent is not an option, so it is more favorable to cheat hoping that the other will also choose this option.
How did the prisoners’ dilemma come about?
The Prisoners’ Dilemma is one of the oldest “games” in the world and its origin is uncertain. It is not known who created the dilemma, but it is constantly attributed to the Hungarian mathematician John von Neumann.
But this attribution is exact. Many say she may have been created by Emile BrotelFrench mathematician and politician.
Why is the prisoners’ dilemma considered a typical Nash equilibrium calculus problem?
The prisoners’ dilemma talks a lot with another problem called the Nash equilibrium. The Nash equilibrium calculus says that in certain games involving two players the game cannot be won when one player unilaterally changes his strategy. Cooperation is always needed.
The prisoners’ dilemma game shows this by placing the two players distant and incommunicado, generating a problem where it is not possible to solve the game without a conversation.
What happens if the Prisoners’ Dilemma players can’t come to an agreement?
In case the players do not reach an agreement, unfortunately the two must go through the most “guaranteed” way, which is to betray. So the players end up not taking the risk of leaving twice at a loss and still trying the chance to leave free.
Are there solutions to the prisoners’ dilemma? If yes, what are they?
The best possible solution to the prisoners’ dilemma is to remain silent. It turns out that this is only possible if there is planning and better, if there is no betrayal. If the scenario were not hypothetical then the problem would certainly be insoluble and would be based entirely on the degree of intimacy and consideration of those involved.
Did you already know the practice of the prisoners’ dilemma? Did you know its importance? It’s a really interesting problem that makes us think about the quality of human relationships.