12.3.07

Day 113 (week 24): Prisoner’s dilemma

Top First telephoned me over the weekend. Said he wanted to talk about pupillage. To keep the upper hand, I said I wasn’t around but could meet on Monday. Today we therefore had lunch on Chancery Lane and he immediately started setting out his thoughts. As far as tenancy chances, he figures that Worrier and BusyBody are both dead in the water and that it’s a straight fight between him and I. No prizes for that one Mr Brainbox. He then started waffling on about some "prisoner’s dilemma". Apparently it’s shows "the benefits of co-operation". I have to admit that beyond that he had pretty much lost me although I think I got the gist of his over-analytical thought process. Basically, he was suggesting a truce. That if we help each other for the rest of pupillage there's a pretty good chance that Chambers might take the two of us. But if we fight there's the risk that we both end up fatally damaged. Naturally, I agreed with this and told him that I was relieved that he had come up with such a sensible solution. He could count on my help and support whenever he needed it. This seemed to satisfy him and he went off in rather a cheery mood.

Which was all very peculiar. It must be painful to live in a mind where everything has to be analysed down into facts, figures and over-arching theories. Perhaps it’s something about lawyers and the legal machine that takes away the essence of something and then gives the remains a label. A divorce case, for example, might be a study in human weakness or the fragility of the spirit. Yet lawyers boil it down to "dividing the assets". A fatal accident is a story of loss, grief, pain, yet it becomes an issue of "pricing the damage". Even a fight in a bar might reflect anger, frustration or jealousy and yet all the lawyers can see is whether there was an "assault" or whether it was "self-defence". With surprising creativity they manage to suck the soul from even the most colourful or tragic circumstance in order to fit it into their artificial constructions. Whatever it is about lawyers, what I know for sure is that TopFirst will make a good one.

As for his prisoner’s dilemma, I’ve since looked it up online. It seems it’s about two prisoners deciding whether to co-operate (in which case they both get six months in jail) or to betray each other (in which case they both get two years). So far, so good. But what TopFirst didn’t explain was that the theory goes on to say that if one prisoner co-operates but the other goes behind his back and betrays him, the sneaky sneak gets off scot free whilst the betrayed gets ten years in the clink. Either, he’s trying to pull a fast one or, despite his intelligence, he’s more naive and foolish than even I give him credit for.

Either way, there will be no co-operation.

7 comments:

RG said...

Sheer evil genius! I hope there is some truth to this, you have me holding my sides most days! Or if it is the work of your imagination then I hope the literary world comes knocking.

Anonymous said...

fight - definitely!

spp said...

Will this all turn into a good old fashioned fist fight?

Anonymous said...

Go get him, Tiger.

Anonymous said...

top first is messing with you

Anonymous said...

Ha you sad get...you moved my post cos ya didnt like me having a dig at you..

Aint so tough after all are we???

Yuk yuk

phatboy said...

I suspect that your chum is being devious. The prisoners dilema led to what is called Game Theory, which describes human behaviour as, essentially, devious and underhand.

It is the premise under which nuclear proliferation is justified.

The only way to win conclusively is to stab your partner in the back and trick him into cooperating with you.

Good blog by the way.