Tuesday, April 20, 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.