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How the Prisoner’s dilemma deters nations from taking a global responsibility



The Prisoner’s dilemma is a situation by which a set of rational game players who act in accordance with maximizing their individual gain end up getting worse off. In game theory, such a game will lead to a non-favorable Nash equilibrium. This is usually because of a lack of information about other player’s decisions or simply an unwillingness to cooperate. Although most real-world interactions between rational game players are more complicated, their essence can be analyzed using the concepts from the Prisoner’s dilemma. One example of this is the quest to act against climate change. While it’s evident that climate change will adversely affect the whole world in the long run, some nations have avoided acting for decades. One of the reasons why nations refrain from taking action on climate change is because the value of long-term gains from a cooperative action on climate change compared to the immediate gain of using fossil fuels is not clearly defined. Furthermore, in the short run, climate change affects some areas of the world such as Bangladesh and Sub-Saharan Africa more than others. As a result, countries who are affected less in the short run have an incentive to maximize their short-term economic gain at the expense of a global climate change.

Another real-world example where the prisoner’s dilemma leads to a non-favorable Nash equilibrium, in the long run, is income inequality which is on a rise globally. This is because most rich people aren’t willing to let go of getting richer despite its possible long-term negative consequences. According to a recent report by the independent, nine of the richest men on earth have more wealth than the poorest 4 billion people. Such an extreme level of inequality could be dangerous to the core of how society is organized. If the increase in income equality continues, it’s not hard to imagine a time in the future where the poor resort to revolt which can lead to a worse situation for everyone. In addition, unless acted upon globally, extreme levels of poverty and population growth in developing countries will affect everyone which can lead to massive immigration and global instability. In conclusion, in order to achieve the goals we all desire in the long run, a global cooperation is necessary. Due to globalization, such cooperation is perhaps more necessary now than any time in history.




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