Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Prisoner's Dilemma

Cooperate or Defect?"The Question: Pipeline" in Detective Comics #863 by Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner, DC Comics (2010)

The Question and the Huntress are kidnapped by a sinister organization of international human traffickers. They are each tortured in separate rooms and urged to reveal their plan to the captors. If each holds firm, the criminals learn nothing (though both might still be held and tortured). If one squeals, she might be released. If both squeal, the captors learn everything (and both will likely get killed).

Sound familiar? Good--it's the Prisoner's Dilemma. If they were both behaving rationally, each would obviously squeal on the other for the chance of release. However, the optimal outcome would be if both say nothing.

See here for more superhero applications of it.

18 comments:

Larry Lennhoff said...

I don't agree that in this case the rational thing to do is squeal. All the choices have a significant chance of getting them killed. In superhero universes, rescue is always a possibility. The choice that results in the longest time for a rescue to be possible is to hold out.

ShadowBanker said...

Even if there is a significant chance of them getting killed in each scenario, if one scenario offers even slightly less risk, it would be the rational choice.

Matt said...

The point about always having the possibility of rescue relies on the hero realizing they are in a comic book. If this were the case why would they even try to save the day. The writers will let someone else do it. My point is heroes are not aware of the fact they are in a comic.

The biggest problem is that you have to take into account the fact that they are heroes in this case. Heroes take up their mantle to protect people and are willing to die for the other person. It almost becomes the reverse of the standard person. They get more utility by saving the other, although, naturally, they would like to get out safely. This is not irrational. Rationality depends on ones preferences and the utility derived from those preferences. If someone's preferences are different they may come to a completely different decision and still be acting rationally.

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Well that's very hard, because when some torture you and you know what they or he or she wants to know you just can't handle it...

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she told them that everything they know.......
what next........

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I can see this comic is really realistic and that's so good, specially because of the punishments they give to the prisoners, just look at the punish the girl is receiving I thought that they were to do something else with her maybe rape her.