‘The Prisoners’ Dilemma, Tragedy of the Commons, Nash Equilibrium, Cows, and Climate Change’

Date: 1 Feb 2011
Speaker(s): Rodrigo Lozano
Venue: University of Leeds

Part of the CCCEP Seminar Series at Leeds

Conventional individualistic behaviours with their quest for profit maximisation and wealth accumulation have created economic, environmental and social imbalances in today’s world. These imbalances threaten to become worse in the coming years, decades and centuries.

Calls and efforts towards sustainable development (SD) seek to establish a dynamic equilibrium among these elements.

This research presents three game theory tools to help rationalise that collaborative behaviours offer better results than individualistic ones.

The first presented is the prisoners’ dilemma.

The second is the tragedy of the commons, a tool similar to the prisoners’ dilemma but with more actors increasing the complexity.

The third, the Nash equilibrium, offers a mathematical way to attempt to reach a system’s optimum, ie to obtain the result that would in a totality benefit all the players.

The tools are linked to SD problems.

The presentation uses illustrative examples linking cows and greenhouse gases to explain the potential of non-zero sum games to help the transition towards more sustainable societies through collaboration.

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