Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Stop, hey, what's that sound?"

"There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in the world. 
It is to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher"
-Henry Van Dyke

Sounds like an innocent statement right? On a personal level, it might be easily done, but it was apparent to me today in my Political Science class with Prof. Suzuki that the world has a long way to go
The prisoner's dilemma. Although many forms of this situation were discussed today (one of which involved stags and a rabbit...you can understand why I came up with my own version), I couldn't help but think of the old, low-budget television show Friend or Foe.

As with any game show, the major premise was to (what else) win money. How they went about filling their bank account is not relevant to my point but in the end, the top two contestants had to make one of two choices which, combined, came out to four outcomes. The choices were friend or foe and neither contestant knew prior to their choice what the other had or would pick. 

If both chose friend, they would split the money. If both chose foe, neither would get the money. If one chose foe and the other, friend, the contestant who chose foe would get the entire prize to himself. 

So what would you chose? For a single contestant's ideal outcome, he would chose foe, although this is in hopes that the other contestant would chose friend. For the best outcome for both, one would chose friend, but this is taking the risk that the other will not chose foe and, thus, take all of the winnings. 

The point is, you can never count on what the other person will do. So is it every man for himself, or do you try to be the "better" person? Is this situation proving the idea that "nice guys finish last" or is re-enforcing the fact that we can all come out a little bit better if we compromise.

If you've kept up, you can understand that the "prisoner's dilemma" is very similar to the world's "security dilemma".  Or even the world's struggle with capping ozone-eating smokestacks. In any case, it's hard to count on what 

1 comment:

Mitchell Kinnen said...

I was in that class, and he did do a pretty good job of explaining why trust is hard in the global community. I guess you just have to hope that everyone is willing to be a little trusting, even if just to releive some of the stress. Maybe we'd all just be better of getting takeout...