Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Old Ideas

I know.. i'm sure others have long since made the connection here... but i was reading about rats in a prisoner's dilemma test and the piece that struck me wasn't that rats are crafty bastards that played the game the way people do... it was the bit about what happens to the results when they're hungry.
If it's true that amongst rats, the drive to work out the 'everyone wins' cooperation is better than screwing people over solutions is adversely affected by the need for the reward... i wonder if that isnt also true amongst people. So the worse the economy gets, the less able people are to think through consequences clearly and just grab at whatever seems like the best thing in front of them.
This seems to me to be a behavior that would be easy to exploit to economic advantage... imposing stress on a collective would tend to make them far less productive - as they stop working together to solve problems. As I think back to the TED spread mess a year ago - and forward to the impending commercial real estate collapse - i think i see a lot of rat-like behavior.

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