Re: poly: How to buy shared secrets cheap

From: Robin Hanson <>
Date: Mon Mar 02 1998 - 09:23:48 PST

Nick Bostrom writes:
>> The serious problem is that experiments show people deviating from
>> standard game theory predictions in similar games.
>Couldn't that be fixed by giving both the suspects (assuming they
>are intelligent enough) a couple tutorials on game theory before the
>process begins?

You can do this, and it might help some, but it's really much more
cost-effective to just let them play against each other a few times.
Since they shouldn't play according to game theory if others don't,
with a lecture there's the uncertainty about how much others were
convinced by the lecture.

>Another serious problem is the possibility of retaliation, ...

Gregory Sullivan writes:
>one should try to take into account other factors such as collusion,
>retaliation, and reputation. ...
>If the secret holders collude then they may demand $2001 dollars ...

Yes of course if people can monitor who tells they can retaliate. But
consider there being N people, and each one can privately tell the
secret, without others being able to directly detect who told. For
N=2 of course they know who to retaliate against, but for N>3 there
are at least three people, only one of which was paid to tell. Do
you retaliate against them all?

There is in principle a way to tell who did it for any N, but I find
the method for this much less plausible.

>I wonder if some of the people playing this game are "deviating from
>standard game theory predictions" because they are considering factors
>such as collusion, retaliation, and reputation.

Researchers are well aware of this possibility, and I think have done
a reasonable job of suggesting that this isn't what is going on.

Robin Hanson
RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614
Received on Mon Mar 2 17:27:34 1998

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