Chris Adami and Arend Hintze’s work on ZD strategies featured in German newspaper Die Zeit

“Die Zeit,” a highly respected German newspaper, featured an article about our latest PNAS submission: http://www.zeit.de/2012/36/Gefangenendilemma-Spieltheorie

The journalist did a stellar job of capturing the dilemma and shed light on the core concepts of our work. In the Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma, Zero Determinant (ZD) strategies have the unique ability to set their opponent’s payoff to a specific value, regardless of how their opponent plays the game. Thus, a ZD strategy can force the opponent to accept an uneven deal: either the ZD player gets more than the opponent, or the opponent gets nothing. This essentially means that exploitive players should always win.

The question we now address in our paper is about the evolutionary stability of a ZD strategy. In brief: ZD strategies are not evolutionary stable because the moment they become successful, they take over the population and start playing each other. Since a ZD strategy forces its opponent to accept a biased deal, the strategy undermines itself. As a consequence, general cooperators fair better because they work together with each other, even if they sometimes lose to ZD strategies. Hence our title: “Winning isn’t everything.”

You can find our archive submission here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1208.2666

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