The Prisoner’s Dilemma and Kobayashi Maru

An Octopus

At group today, I found a way to Kobayashi Maru the prisoner’s dilemma.

The prisoner’s dilemma is an example in game theory that has no obvious solution. John and Frank were arrested for an alleged robbery, in our example, a warehouse. The idea is that the two prisoner’s are separated and interrogated independently by the police. The police say that if you confess and implicate the other person, you’ll only get 1 year in prison and the other will get 20, but if both of you confess, you’ll both get 10 years.

The prisoner’s dilemma that pits loyalty against self-preservation. There isn’t any clear way to behave. It’s a test of character and the relationship between two people.

Kobayashi Maru is a famous incident in Star Trek history. It’s a simulation of a battle with the Klingons. Basically, the captain can’t win and will end up dying along with the rest of his crew.

Kirk, famously, cheated and reprogrammed the simulator to let him win.

So me and my partner come up with a backstory to the alleged crime. The two of us had been friends since 7th grade. When were were 20, we went to prison because of a automobile theft. Now the pair was 35. About a month before the arrest and warehouse incident, we’d had a falling out because of a mutual love interest.

So, my out-of-the-box solution: I confessed that I had done it, but the other person was innocent. He had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time and it was actually a third person who was my co-conspirator in the robbery. In my mind when we played out the game, I was telling the truth and not just making up a story for the friend. But, regardless, I think it would blow out of the water any deal that the police had proposed.

In the experiment that we did today, the other person confessed as well, so according to the rules of the dilemma, we would both get 10 years in prison. The group leader didn’t reveal my actual note….

In summary, I had used my loyalty to my friend to help him out. It threw the whole situation in the air so that a prosecutor be required to sort it all out and the police wouldn’t have the tidy mutual confession.

It certainly would not be good for me in my solution. I used my loyalty to my friend to, potentially, put my life at risk. If the third person was vengeful, he could easily arrange for me to be killed.

So, I broke the dilemma, just as Kirk had broke the Kobayashi Maru simulation.

Transcending tricksy reading

I was just glancing over this paragraph and my vision played a trick on me. It comes from IUPUI’s website.

The Office of the Vice President for Information Technology has steering committees in place to help develop strategies and establish priorities for shared administrative and academic systems. The Oncourse Priorities Committee has specific responsibilities for ensuring thoughtful and timely decisions regarding priorities for Oncourse, IU’s online collaboration and learning system, and for recommending policies to guide its effective use. In light of, the OPC will also provide guidance to the Learning Technologies Steering Committee regarding any future selection of a new learning management system for Indiana University. Below is a list of current committee members:

After glancing at the document, I was certain that I saw the word “transcend” somewhere in it. When I looked it over repeatedly, I found that “transcend” was not there at all.

Perhaps this is along the same line as the mistakes that can be present in eye-witness testimony. One can remember an event that might have taken only a fraction of a second. Over time the event will gradually shift from being a movie to a short story. This short story can be adjusted by people asking questions or reinforcing story facets with feedback and positive reinforcement. Talking with another witness can confound ones memories with the other person’s memories so that both are wrong.

One specific example of this is in police investigations. The police (for the most part) don’t try to manipulate the witness, but they have an effect by asking some questions and not others. Also, they can give reinforcement to certain details with their comments by thanking the witness for their information. In some situations, such as with children, these adjustments are very hard to avoid.

The movie and short story feel equally true, but after a while they won’t match the actual events that happened. As the short story then turns into a sound bite, the eye witness can be wrong, sometimes in catastrophic ways for the plaintiff defendant.