The Prisoner's Dilemma - Deepstash

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We’re Optimizing Ourselves to Death

The Prisoner's Dilemma

The Prisoner's Dilemma

It is a famous thought experiment in Game Theory. Two prisoners in separate interrogation rooms have two options: to confess or to lie, and this can lead to three outcomes:

  1. If both confess, they both serve eight years in prison.
  2. If both lie, then they both serve one year in prison.
  3. If one of them confesses and one of them lies, then the liar gets maximum prison and the confessor goes free.

This thought experiment tells us that when we make decisions, the ones which are taken by others also factors in.

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Preserving optionality

Preserving optionality means avoiding limiting choices or dependencies. It means staying open to opportunities and always having a backup plan.
The more options we have, the better suited we are to deal with unpredictability and uncertainty.

Having options

We are faced with options all the time, but life-altering ones often come up during times of great change. These options are the ones we have the hardest time capitalizing on.
If we’ve specialized too much, change is a threat, not an opportunity. Thus, if we aren’t certain where the opportunities are going to be (and we never are), then we need to make choices to keep our options open.

Navigating difficult times

When times are hard is when many investors make their fortunes and when entrepreneurs innovate. They have to see the opportunity in chaos.

Understanding morality

Psychologists do not understand human moral behavior, because it seldom makes any logical sense.

Using moral philosophy and psychology, biology, economics, mathematics, and computer science, scientists are trying to study how morality operates in the real world.

Our default mode

Through a series of experiments, it was discovered that despite the temptation to be selfish, most people show selflessness.

This is particularly true when subjects were forced to make their decision under time pressure; people are prone to cooperation when they rely more on intuition.

Creating quantitative models

Most of the psychological theories are verbal, but words can be imprecise. If "cooperation is intuitive", it needs to state when. And what does "intuitive" mean?

In order to solve this, computer simulations of society were developed.

Forming good habits

Habits are little chunks of auto-pilot behavior that get burned permanently into your mind. Once you develop a habit, you can never really delete it.

Habits start with a trigger, which sets off your automatic behavior. They end at a pleasant reward that reinforces your habit.

Find the trigger point of your habit

Describe your own behavior in detail, and search for clues you might have missed before. Find your trigger.
If you have a habit of making coffee, it might be triggered by entering the kitchen. Some people eat in response to boredom or buy stuff in response to their desires.

Trick yourself

Take an existing cue you have, but trick yourself into triggering a different behavior.
If you want to quit coffee, you could give away the coffee machine and put a box of tea or a glass of water on the countertop.