The Prisoner’s Dilemma

Arrested and charged
I’ve been thrown in a cell
Accused of a deed
That I did not propel

Another, unseen
Though revealed to my knowledge
Is also constrained
To partake in this folly

I know not his role
In this shocking melee
Two men shared the knife
‘Twas not I, but did he?

You lay out my cards
And you set me a pace
For your interest lies only
In closing the case

If I declare
And the other does not
I will get just one year
And for ten he will rot

If I declare
And he follows suit
We both languish for five
By the prison guard’s boot

I may choose to deny
While he may confess
Ten years of my life
Will be cold and oppressed

Or I may deny
And so may he too
In which case we will both
Be free in just two

My interests you say
Are served best and served true
By choosing the path
That ensures the least gruel

If that is the case
I choose the confession
For one or five years
Remains better than ten

Yet I can’t be so sure
That my self-serving lie
Will serve me the best
If the other denies

If he is clever
He’ll choose as I do
But that means we’ll both
Have five years to endure

So it seems after all
That our interests are served
By foregoing our interests
And testing our nerve


2 Responses to “The Prisoner’s Dilemma”

  1. 2 Simon June 12, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Great Brad. I’ve no idea where you find the time.

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