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emily's picture

Cooperate is the way to go!

The first time I played prisoner's dilemma, I chose to cooperate every time. The computer also chose to cooperate every single time and we ended up with the same number of coins. I sensed the computer was mimicking my pattern for some reason, so the next time I cooperated every time, as did the computer, except for one turn in the middle where I competed, and in the next turn I cooperated and the Computer competed (so we were even). Then on my last turn, I chose to compete (I knew it was the last turn because of the number of coins I had last time on the last turn). When I chose to compete on the last turn, the Computer chose to cooperate and I won. Although these two trials may have been random, I got a strong feeling that the computer was sensing my pattern and playing accordingly. A real world example of the prisoner's dilemma can be seen in The Tragedy of Commons essay, specifically the section about pollution: "the rational man finds that his share of the cost of the wastes he discharges into the commons is less than the cost of purifying his wastes before releasing them. Since this is true for everyone, we are locked into a system of "fouling our own nest" so long as we behave only as independent, rational, free enterprisers". If every single person chose to cooperate, we would all come out even. But in a way, if we choose to do what is best for our own selves immediately right then, it could be bad for us in the long run. Choosing to be selfish in the Prisoner's Dilemma leaded the computer to retaliate against me, which could have potentially lead to competition and more selfishness and even the potential to lose. But choosing to cooperate seemed to be the best option. 


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