Prisoner's Dilemma and the Fight Against Global Warming Capstone Project

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Prisoner's Dilemma And The Fight Against Global Warming

Global warming reached alarming levels and governments from all over the world need to gather in a united front to fight the process. Sooner or later, all countries will be obliged to enter this fight, leaving all divergences and interests aside, as global warming affects everyone more or less. While some might expect that the largest difficulties in fighting global warming involve financial and technical factors, the problem actually depends more on political and social factors.

All domains are known to be affected by global warming, with economic and social success being destabilized by the fact that Earth's temperature is constantly rising. Even though the global warming process has been hurried in the second half of the twentieth century by the advance in technology and industry, people have raised questions relating to the earth going through a warming process ever since the end of the nineteenth century

The solution to the problem of global warming is somewhat clear, major international players have to voluntarily let go of their present concerns in favor of cooperating with each-other in order to ameliorate and eventually stop global warming.

The process of global warming is slowly but surely advancing and there is no other solution to it but for countries all over the globe to get actively involved in the fight against it. It is obvious that climate change will occur in the long-term, as the process of global warming cannot be stopped immediately, even if all countries were to decide to take part in fighting it. However, most are reluctant to do so, especially after observing that others are not expressing their interest in solving the problem.

Apparently, there is no use in attempting to punish a certain country because it is unwilling to join the fight against global warming. Instead, in order to get other countries to cooperate in the performance, some need to discover what is the best behavior that they can display so as to convince the others into changing their view on the subject.

Two individuals are most likely to refuse to cooperate in a situation which implies them leaving their interests aside. What is more disturbing is the fact that these two individuals would probably continue to do the same when they learn that their cooperation would prove to be beneficial for both of them.

The game theory has a basic problem in it, called the Prisoner's Dilemma, which includes several players that are given the chance to cooperate in order for all of them to gain profits from the act. Nevertheless, this also makes it possible for a certain player to take advantage of the others, or for none of the players to take action (Axelrod, 1984, p. viii).

The Prisoner's Dilemma is best explained through the example involving two persons that are arrested by the police. The Police do not have enough evidence to arrest the two, and, thus, they resort to offering the same deal to both of them. The prisoners are presented with the chances of either turning their accomplice in, or of remaining silent. If both remain silent, they get off with a minor sentence, but if they both testify, they are both convicted. If one chooses to testify while the other remains silent, the first is set free while the other is left serving the full sentence. The prisoners are tempted to choose to turn each-other in, as the police assure them that their testimonies would remain secret until the investigation will be over (Cline, 1992, p. 325).

One of the key elements in the Prisoner's Dilemma condition is the fact that, until the round finishes, none of the players knows what the others have done. Even with that, each of the prisoners is aware that if he of she defects the other, they would be presented with the highest benefits. The problem is that if they both choose to turn the other in, they would both end up much worse than if they would have cooperated.

If all the players in a game choose to cooperate, they will all be rewarded with great benefits. However, even though cooperation brings in the highest benefits, it also brings in the highest risk, as one might find themselves getting the lowest score if they are the only one that wants to cooperate. In reality, it is actually difficult to determine when it is a good time to cooperate and when it is not. Selfishness always seems to be the best way out of any situation

As in any game, most players are able to see the actions performed by their opponents in the previous rounds. Thus, these actions can influence one's moves in the next round of the game. It is perfectly normal for players to be less inclined to cooperate, as they are mainly interested in themselves, rather than being interested in their enemies. Of course, it would probably be tempting to cooperate if players knew that this collaboration would bring benefits.

Since the beginning of time, people have been convinced that cooperation is not likely to occur in a world dominated by self-interested individuals. The fact that there is not any central authority to control the general public only adds to this conviction.

People are firstly interested in their own concerns, and, only consequent to that do they pay attention to other people's interests. Even though the concept of cooperation is partially eliminated by knowing what people mainly want, it is also known that cooperation occurred in several instances, and, that civilization is largely owed to cooperation.

In Axelrod's opinion, one of the best (and rather subjective) explanations to cooperation is given by Thomas Hobbes. The English philosopher considered that selfishness is a key feature of humanity and that it held back ever since the appearance of governments. In his view, cooperation cannot be possible without the existence of a central authority to control the population (Axelrod, p. 4).

Across time, nations have interacted without being controlled by a certain authority, thus the resulting conflicts which emerged. Battles mainly occurred due to the need for security, expressed by nations in general. Some nations, in particular, considered that it would be better for their people to be secure, even if this meant that other nations would become underprivileged as a result.

Most individuals choose to cooperate in hope that this would bring benefits in the near future. When taking in consideration two companies doing business, a certain company is likely to favor the other, hoping that they too will be favored by the other when the next business opportunity arises.

In its basic form, the Prisoner's Dilemma only involves two individuals and one round. In this form each individual only has one shot at choosing whether he wants to cooperate with his accomplice and remain silent or whether he wants to defect and turn his partner in.

In a multiple-round game matters would most certainly be different. The Prisoner's Dilemma is modified when several rounds are involved. Individuals are able to influence their partner's next move through diverse methods. They can place threats, promises, and they can even build up a reputation which would increase their chances of appearing to be cooperative.

Similar to how they would benefit the most if they cooperated in a single-round game, players would benefit from cooperating during a game with multiple rounds. Robert Axelrod attempted to find the best game strategy that would influence players in cooperating with each-other. In order to do this, he gathered a number of game theorists from around the world. These people had to come up with programs which contained the best strategy tor assist one in a situation similar to the Prisoner's Dilemma. Programs needed to provide a history of the interactions having taken place until a certain moment and influence the player in making a decision concerning their next move.

The best strategy to assist a Prisoner's Dilemma situation proved to be that of the Tit for Tat game. The game involves several players who begin by cooperating, and are later influenced by the moves that they see at their adversaries. Amazed by the game's simplicity, Axelrod organized another tournament, which, unsurprisingly, ended in the same manner, with Tit for Tat offering the best strategy. From the two hundred games presented at the tournament, Anatol Rapoport's strategy related to Tit for Tat had been the best that one could use in a Prisoner's Dilemma situation (Kubilay Geckil; Anderson, 2009, p. 40). Obviously, the Tit for Tat strategy would only be effective in the multiple-round Prisoner's Dilemma games, as it would be useless in a single-shot game.

In a Tit for Tat game, the first player begins the session by cooperating, a move which should trigger the same movement in his opponents. All the players in the game continue to cooperate, until someone defects, a move which, in turn, influences the other players in defecting. Communication is very important in a Tit for… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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