Nice guys don't finish last...

Nice guys don’t finish last…

It’s quite an old adage ‘Nice Guys Finish Last’ and its reiterated multiple times to emphasize the value of selfishness in the organic world, but the truth is certainly not what it seems, at least not according to game theory.
Many of us may be aware of game theory’s famous prisoner’s dilemma and if you aren’t then it’s nothing but simply a game where two players are asked to move simultaneously. If they choose to cooperate both are rewarded; if they deflect both are punished; and in case if one chooses to deflect and another choose to cooperate then later one will be punished (here punishment is graver than mutually deflection scenario) while former will be rewarded (here award is more than in cooperation scenario) so overall there are four possible scenarios.
Now it’s quite logical to cooperate in every stance because both of you are expected to gain in that case but not for a rational man who assume that if another player will choose to cooperate then best strategy with him is to deflect and if another player chooses to deflect in that case too best strategy for him is to deflect so no matter what he will deflect in every case. Bad luck for him another player is similar rational being capable of thinking on the similar lines so his actions will be similar. As a result, both players will deflect every time.
What if the game will not stop and will continue for several rounds then players will deviate from their selfish behavior because they know that if they will choose to cheat now they will be punished later but how selfless an individual should be if the game goes on.
A study was conducted inviting different strategies for the same game from a large number of computer programmers; mathematicians and evolutionary biologists, 63 to be exact where every strategy was either good or bad. Good strategies ranged from ‘No matter whatever you will do, I will always cooperate’ to ‘Tit for Tat’ and bad strategies ranged from ‘No matter whatever you will do, I will always deflect’ to ‘Randomly deflecting after 9 moves and then resuming good behavior’. Strategies based on their win or loss were awarded points and it was seen after 200 rounds that good strategies were always performing better than bad strategies and ‘Tit for Tat’ no matter how simple it looked, was the clear winner.
Different species in nature are required to participate in interspecies and intraspecies cooperation so it’s always lucrative to utilize services from another and never pay back. In that case, losers or softies slowly become extinct due to continued backstabbing after those cheaters are left with no one to cheat because another group of individuals whose motto is ‘To reward a friend and to punish a cheater’ punish the cheaters for their acts and slowly cheaters also become extinct. ‘Tit for Tat’ is the best strategy that’s being allowed by natural selection.
It’s assumed that our intellectual capability and our mental facility are nor for doing complex algorithms or differential calculus it’s just to bestow us with a power to differentiate friend from cheaters.
A huge gratitude to John Nash who passed away recently on 23rd May 2015 whose work on game theory explained how being a nice guy or gal is not so bad after all. Wondering if this is what we can call ‘Karma’

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