RAND Would Be Proud – Americans In Italy With The Prisoner’s Dilemma In Real Life

Of course all of this is sub judice so we cannot say with any certainty what actually did happen. But we can say what is being reported:

Two Americans arrested in connection with the death of an Italian paramilitary officer had blamed each other for committing murder, court documents sent to reporters show.

Precisely and exactly the wrong thing to do of course:

The prisoner’s dilemma is a standard example of a game analyzed in game theory that shows why two completely rational individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so. It was originally framed by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher while working at RAND in 1950. Albert W. Tucker formalized the game with prison sentence rewards and named it “prisoner’s dilemma”,[1] presenting it as follows: Two members of a criminal gang are arrested and imprisoned. Each prisoner is in solitary confinement with no means of communicating with the other. The prosecutors lack sufficient evidence to convict the pair on the principal charge, but they have enough to convict both on a lesser charge. Simultaneously, the prosecutors offer each prisoner a bargain. Each prisoner is given the opportunity either to betray the other by testifying that the other committed the crime, or to cooperate with the other by remaining silent. The offer is: If A and B each betray the other, each of them serves two years in prison
If A betrays B but B remains silent, A will be set free and B will serve three years in prison (and vice versa)
If A and B both remain silent, both of them will serve only one year in prison (on the lesser charge).

Keep shtum and hope the other does too. Or, if you’re to incriminate the other, do so first. Which is exactly what the dilemma is, of course.

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of