The world of game theory is currently on fire. In May, Freeman Dyson at Princeton University and William Press at the University of Texas announced that they had discovered a previously unknown strategy for the game of prisoner’s dilemma which guarantees one player a better outcome than the other.
That’s a monumental surprise. Theorists have studied Prisoner’s Dilemma for decades, using it as a model for the emergence of co-operation in nature. This work has had a profound impact on disciplines such as economics, evolutionary biology and, of course, game theory itself. The new result will have impact in all these areas and more.
The game is this: imagine Alice and Bob have committed a crime and are arrested. The police offer each one a deal--snitch and you go free while your friend does 6 months in jail. If both Alice and Bob snitch, they both get 3 months in jail. If they both remain silent, they both get one month in jail for a lesser offence.
What should Alice and Bob do?