Friday, January 11, 2013
We Cannot Rob Ourselves Rich
A man parks in front of a pharmacy and goes in to rob the register. While he is inside, a second robber steals his car. As the first man leaves the pharmacy to discover his car has been robbed, a third man holds him up and takes his loot.
Frustrated, the man went to the police station to report the theft of his car - where he ran into and was identified by the owner of the pharmacy. Remarkably, while interviewed the man who held up the pharmacy admitted that the car was not actually his, he had stolen it the previous day.
One person can steal for personal gain, but what if that leads to an equilibrium where everyone steals nobody can win. Decision trees between acting in short term personal interest vs long term group interest are called prisoner's dilemmas. This video demonstrates that the problem is not limited to the inside of prison walls.
Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty