Beliefs, Models, Analogies

Theoretical Game Model for Concept of Interdependence

"The concept of interdependence is perhaps best introduced by the game-theoretical model of the Prisoner's Dilema, formulated and named by Albert W. Tucker, a professor of mathematics at Princeton. In its original version, a district attorney is holding two men suspected of armed robbery. There is not enough evidence to take the case to court, so he has the two men brough to his ofice. He tells them that in order to have them convicted, he needs a confession; without them he can charge them only with illegal possession of firearms, which carries a penalty of six months in jail. Of they both confess, he promises them the minimum sentence for armed robbery, which is two-years. If, however, only one confesses, he will be considered a state witness and go free, while the other will get twenty years, the maximum sentence. Then, without giving them a chance to arrive at a joint decision, he has them locked up in separate cells from which they cannot communicate with each other....

This is their dilemma, and it has no solution. Even if the prisoners somehow succeeded in communicating with each other and reach a joint decision, their fate will still depend on whether each feels he can trust the other to stick to the decision--if not, the vicious circle will start all over again."