8: Changing the Game
While observations of cooperation in society in general are of some interest, most people are more concerned with a more specific approach to the topic: How can I, as an individual, improve my chances of gaining the cooperation I need of others?
Introduce New Players
An unusual and somewhat counter-intuitive approach to achieve harmony is to add discord - specifically, in terms of a person who behaves uncooperatively in an overt and obvious manner. Some of the reasons this is effective are:
- The non-cooperative party becomes a "common enemy" of parties who would otherwise squabble amongst one another
- It is easier for others to observe the negative effects of non-cooperation when someone else is doing it
- People are more inclined to criticize self-serving behavior, and less inclined to justify it, when someone else is doing it
- When people witness cheating, their negative inclination to retaliate, and "coordinating retaliation" is a form of cooperation
The additional person need not be a disruptive factor, but may facilitate interaction in other ways:
- Obviously, a disinterested third party is often consulted (or relied upon) to arbitrate disputes among two parties that cannot agree among themselves
- A person who is on good terms with two people who are in conflict may also facilitate their cooperation (without necessarily passing judgment)
- The third party may also act as an escrow in exchanges.
- There is also the notion of the "surety bond", in which a "penalty" for misconduct is held by a non-player that is released to the other player if the bonded player cheats.
Using Simulation to Model Outcomes
The author goes a bit off the deep end, jabbering about "quantum computers," but describes what is essentially the use of computer simulation to predict the outcome of possible actions.
In a competitive situation, the situation is analyzed and the computer simulation depicts every possible outcome of every possible choice that either player might make - in effect, making it common knowledge to all players how things will turn out, and identifying the best possible strategy for all concerned. (EN: my sense is this tool could be just as much a boon to cheaters as to cooperators, except that it would make it easier for honest players to identify when someone is cheating at an early stage.)
Alternately, the simulation would give each participant the ability to indicate their next move, and then reconsider the next move based on what other players indicated their next move would be, and to make continued adjustments without taking an actual action, in order that all players can arrive at a strategy that best serves their own interests, with knowledge of how others will act. (EN: again, based on what others say they will do, not what they will actually do.)
Simulations could also help to model the behavior of third parties, to help identify situations in which a "free rider" situation might occur. The benefit of this would be to those who are paying for the public benefit. Taking the example of the road through a town that will be used by through traffic, the taxpayers in the town would then know in advance how much the road will cost to maintain due to the free-riding traffic, and have a better idea of the actual cost, and perhaps deciding not to build the road if the cost of free riders is predicted to be too great.
(EN: in the end, my thought is that this entire section is very speculative, and a bit more along the lines of a fantasy story rather than a depiction of a likely future.)