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5/08/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Nice guys finish first

A 1985 video produced by Richard Dawkins. The film is about 45 minutes in length.



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1 comment:

eel_shepherd said...

It so happens that an article in the Metamagical Themas regular column in Scientific American, in which this computer tournament of repeated-Prisoner's Dilemma was detailed, is/was the single most influential few pages on my way of life and worldview. After reading the article and thinking about it for a while, I also got the book "The Evolution Of Cooperation" by Axelrod. Near the end of the book, he gives a number of suggestions for how conditions that favour the evolution of cooperation can be set up. e.g. you start with trifling, low-consequence, low-payoff encounters, and gradually increase the consequence/payoff load as the "prisoners" build up, if not a rapport, at least a rewarding modus vivendi.

We can see the same process in action on this very messageboad, with the various passing Xtians. A fairly recent one, who will go nameless, is nice, and has been well-received by all, in spite of the fact that s/he is not deconverting, nor is s/he making any re-converts among the population here. Meanwhile, there is no _need_ to name the Xtians who do a one-off drive-by "Jesus loves you, but you're all gonna fry" before scurrying off to brag about how they ventured right into the lions' den. Or the small-spirited self-hating misanthropes who, judging others by themselves, welcome an approaching self-fulfilling doom. (There should be a name for the tendency of stationary objects to cause the objects around them to also become stationary...)

Certainty-of-re-encounter was one of the conditions that Axelrod named as fostering the evolution of cooperation amongst populations made up of individual self-interested cells. I recommend the book very highly.