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Defecting by Accident - A Flaw Common to Analytical People

Related to: Rationalists Should Win, Why Our Kind Can't Cooperate, Can Humanism Match Religion's Output?, Humans Are Not Automatically Strategic, Paul Graham's "Why Nerds Are Unpopular"

The "Prisoner's Dilemma" refers to a game theory problem developed in the 1950's. Two prisoners are taken and interrogated separately. If either of them confesses and betrays the other person - "defecting" - they'll receive a reduced sentence, and their partner will get a greater sentence. However, if both defect, then they'll both receive higher sentences than if neither of them confessed.

This brings the prisoner to a strange problem. The best solution individually is to defect. But if both take the individually best solution, then they'll be worst off overall. This has wide ranging implications for international relations, negotiation, politics, and many other fields.

Members of LessWrong are incredibly smart people who tend to like game theory, and debate and explore and try to understand problems like this. But, does knowing game theory actually make you more effective in real life?

I think the answer is yes, with a caveat - you need the basic social skills to implement your game theory solution. The worst-case scenario in an interrogation would be to "defect by accident" - meaning that you'd just blurt out something stupidly because you didn't think it through before speaking. This might result in you and your partner both receiving higher sentences... a very bad situation. Game theory doesn't take over until basic skill conditions are met, so that you could actually execute any plan you come up with.

On Design Driving Everything, by Joshua Gross

Joshua Gross has been interested in the intersection of art and computers since he was nine years old -- and it shows. He's regularly brought into companies at incredibly high rates to improve their front-end design and user experience, and consult with management over ensuring their products connect with customers. This interview is key for startup founders, programmers, product managers, and people in venture capital: if you're needing to understand what makes a product good for an end user, Joshua Gross is illuminating.

Joshua is currently offering a GiveGetWin deal "Get User-Centric to Win" -- perfect for startup founders, investors, those working on UI/UX, and other front-end developers, product managers, and creatives.

Design Drives Everything, by Joshua Gross, as told to Sebastian Marshall

Design really is the fundamental way a product works and interacts with the end user, the person using the product. It's more than how something looks or how it feels. It's how it looks, feels, works, and you could even go as far as to say it's why it works the way it does.

A chair is designed to fit the human form, for instance. Imagine you didn't take people into consideration when designing a chair, and only took into account making it look good. It could be too skinny, or have a bad angle, or otherwise be wildly uncomfortable. It doesn't make sense to make a chair to look pretty, you do it for people to sit on.

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