Here's one version: You and your partner are captured. If you rat on him ("defect'') and he is silent, you get off scot-free and he gets three years—and vice versa. If you both rat on each other, you both get less lengthy sentences, two years; but if you both clam up (cooperate with each other), you get one year each. What to do? It is the dilemma posed by the prisoner's dilemma that is the theme of this latest volume from Poundstone (Labyrinths of Reason
, 1988, etc.)—an intriguing exercise in point/counterpoint as Poundstone intertwines the development of game theory with a running biography of one of game theory's founders, John von Neumann.
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