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The Evolution of Cooperation provides valuable insights into the age-old question of whether unforced cooperation is ever possible. Widely praised and much-discussed, this classic book explores how cooperation can emerge in a world of self-seeking egoists-whether superpowers, businesses, or individuals-when there is no central authority to police their actions. The problem of cooperation is central to many different fields. Robert Axelrod recounts the famous computer tournaments in which the cooperative” program Tit for Tat recorded its stunning victories, explains its application to a broad spectrum of subjects, and suggests how readers can both apply cooperative principles to their own lives and teach cooperative principles to others.
Published: Basic Books on
ISBN: 9780786734887
List price: $16.95
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Axelrod and company had have given a full blow to the war-mongering theory that strength and power are the only true answers to conflict.So, if you are into the idea that it is better to be feared than loved, read this book and you may be enticed to re-consider.Today and twentyfive years after 1984, Axelrod's famous computer tournament has become a must-know-about within biology and the political science. But only ten years after publication, its findings has become outdated. Still, people pinpoint to this book, because it gave the answer to a very pressing question of that time.Starting with a famous political statement of Thomas Hobbes: life in Axelrod's world is solitary, brutish and short. Axelrod and his contemporaries call it the prisoner's dilemma. In this world, conflict is what life is about. The reason is betrayal, cheating and selfish thinking within the human species. The pressing question is: how to make the world work, so that a nuclear war is not automatic.The answer is given in Axelrod's book -- and all summaries and reviews will tell it, too. Yet, another group of scientists came up with a modified answer by 1993. Thus, is Axelrod's book still worth reading? For two facts, yes.1) The 1990s-experiments supports Axelrod's general findings that niceness is a good idea even in a brutish world, even though they came up with a slightly different twist.2) Axelrod is just a very good writer.more
This book might be a bit dated but it still offers interesting in what makes cooperation between individuals work (or not) by interpreting results coming from a computer experiment in game theory. Axelrod begins by describing the famous "Prisoner's dilemma" and discussing which computer algorithms are the most efficient in solving it. He then shows how many real-life situations can be modeled as "prisoner's dilemma" and how individuals tend to react just as the abstract computer algorithms do. By drawing upon his observations, both in game theory and in real-life examples, the author concludes by giving some tips on how to foster cooperation in a given environment, or how to provide an environment favorable to cooperation. Backed by such simple, rational theory, his advice appear much sounder than most of what can be found in all the business-success-self-help-mumbo-jumbo literature...more
You've seen The Dark Knight and you're marvelling over the outcome of the scenario with the two ferries wired with explosives and each ferry given a control that will blow the other ferry out of the water. You watched as the tension grew with each passing second. Would someone push the button to blow the other guy out of the water or was there a way out of this?It's a scenario referred to as the prisoner's dilemma. This book explores that game scenario, how it came to be, how it became a winning strategy in computer gaming, and most importantly how this game is played out every day in myriad ways you never dreamed possible - especially in your own life, if you are willing to take a long, hard, honest look. The book contains the most cogent argument for co-operation over ruthless competition as a strategy for survival and success. The might-is-right arguments of those who wield and abuse power for short-term gain are countered by proof that co-operation wins in the end and mercy triumphs over might."Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is more than a platitude; it's a winning strategy - the ONLY winning strategy.This book ought to be compulsory reading in every school, family, business, place of worship, and legislature.more
This is everything a popularized account of science should be. It is clear, deep, practical as well as theoretical, and very relevant. I knew of the Prisoner's Dilemma, and I knew of Axelrod's computer tournament, so I thought I wouldn't get much out of this book. I was wrong: the discussion goes far beyond the game itself and into a grounded exposition of the growth of cooperation in a selfish environment. Fantastic.more
Explores how cooperation can emerge in a world ruled by selfishness with no central authority or rule. Axelrod demonstrates that enlightened self interest can lead to effective cooperation in any situation where the participants believe that they will need to interact with each other in the future. These lessons can, and should be applied to personal, corporate, national, and international interactions. After reading this book I noticed that I was much less likely to take an all or nothing approach when dealing with others, and was more more likely to look for win-win options.more
Robert Axelrod is a political scientist who became intrigued with an old problem known as The Prisoner’s Dilemma. (In one example two prisoners are each told that they will get a reward if they tell on the other. If neither confesses, there’s no change; if both tell, then both get another month in jail, if one tells and the other doesn’t then the sentences are lengthened and shortened by three months each.)The prisoner’s dilemma becomes especially interesting when it is repeated so there is a pattern of interaction between the two prisoners. Have a look at the pattern of rewards and work out what you might do?Axelrod had the idea of inviting a range of people from different disciplines to submit their suggestions for ‘winning strategies’. He then set them off to play against each other to see which ones came off best in a long series of repetitions.Surprisingly, the ‘best’ strategy was a very simple one known as ‘tit for tat’, which cooperated until the other side defected when it immediately defected once then continued to cooperate.I won’t spoil the story of why it was so successful or of the translation of this simple idea into the real-world political arena. That is Robert Axelrod’s story and he tells it well.Have a look at this and you may choose to add some of the ideas to your negotiations too.more
An accessible and comprehensive presentation of Axelrod's work that will appeal to both social scientists and computer geeks. Reading about Axelrod's work in Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas back in high school was one of two things that first got me interested in game theory. Twenty years later, this book may seem quaint; but Axelrod's work in the early 80s blew my mind at the time.more
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Reviews

Axelrod and company had have given a full blow to the war-mongering theory that strength and power are the only true answers to conflict.So, if you are into the idea that it is better to be feared than loved, read this book and you may be enticed to re-consider.Today and twentyfive years after 1984, Axelrod's famous computer tournament has become a must-know-about within biology and the political science. But only ten years after publication, its findings has become outdated. Still, people pinpoint to this book, because it gave the answer to a very pressing question of that time.Starting with a famous political statement of Thomas Hobbes: life in Axelrod's world is solitary, brutish and short. Axelrod and his contemporaries call it the prisoner's dilemma. In this world, conflict is what life is about. The reason is betrayal, cheating and selfish thinking within the human species. The pressing question is: how to make the world work, so that a nuclear war is not automatic.The answer is given in Axelrod's book -- and all summaries and reviews will tell it, too. Yet, another group of scientists came up with a modified answer by 1993. Thus, is Axelrod's book still worth reading? For two facts, yes.1) The 1990s-experiments supports Axelrod's general findings that niceness is a good idea even in a brutish world, even though they came up with a slightly different twist.2) Axelrod is just a very good writer.more
This book might be a bit dated but it still offers interesting in what makes cooperation between individuals work (or not) by interpreting results coming from a computer experiment in game theory. Axelrod begins by describing the famous "Prisoner's dilemma" and discussing which computer algorithms are the most efficient in solving it. He then shows how many real-life situations can be modeled as "prisoner's dilemma" and how individuals tend to react just as the abstract computer algorithms do. By drawing upon his observations, both in game theory and in real-life examples, the author concludes by giving some tips on how to foster cooperation in a given environment, or how to provide an environment favorable to cooperation. Backed by such simple, rational theory, his advice appear much sounder than most of what can be found in all the business-success-self-help-mumbo-jumbo literature...more
You've seen The Dark Knight and you're marvelling over the outcome of the scenario with the two ferries wired with explosives and each ferry given a control that will blow the other ferry out of the water. You watched as the tension grew with each passing second. Would someone push the button to blow the other guy out of the water or was there a way out of this?It's a scenario referred to as the prisoner's dilemma. This book explores that game scenario, how it came to be, how it became a winning strategy in computer gaming, and most importantly how this game is played out every day in myriad ways you never dreamed possible - especially in your own life, if you are willing to take a long, hard, honest look. The book contains the most cogent argument for co-operation over ruthless competition as a strategy for survival and success. The might-is-right arguments of those who wield and abuse power for short-term gain are countered by proof that co-operation wins in the end and mercy triumphs over might."Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is more than a platitude; it's a winning strategy - the ONLY winning strategy.This book ought to be compulsory reading in every school, family, business, place of worship, and legislature.more
This is everything a popularized account of science should be. It is clear, deep, practical as well as theoretical, and very relevant. I knew of the Prisoner's Dilemma, and I knew of Axelrod's computer tournament, so I thought I wouldn't get much out of this book. I was wrong: the discussion goes far beyond the game itself and into a grounded exposition of the growth of cooperation in a selfish environment. Fantastic.more
Explores how cooperation can emerge in a world ruled by selfishness with no central authority or rule. Axelrod demonstrates that enlightened self interest can lead to effective cooperation in any situation where the participants believe that they will need to interact with each other in the future. These lessons can, and should be applied to personal, corporate, national, and international interactions. After reading this book I noticed that I was much less likely to take an all or nothing approach when dealing with others, and was more more likely to look for win-win options.more
Robert Axelrod is a political scientist who became intrigued with an old problem known as The Prisoner’s Dilemma. (In one example two prisoners are each told that they will get a reward if they tell on the other. If neither confesses, there’s no change; if both tell, then both get another month in jail, if one tells and the other doesn’t then the sentences are lengthened and shortened by three months each.)The prisoner’s dilemma becomes especially interesting when it is repeated so there is a pattern of interaction between the two prisoners. Have a look at the pattern of rewards and work out what you might do?Axelrod had the idea of inviting a range of people from different disciplines to submit their suggestions for ‘winning strategies’. He then set them off to play against each other to see which ones came off best in a long series of repetitions.Surprisingly, the ‘best’ strategy was a very simple one known as ‘tit for tat’, which cooperated until the other side defected when it immediately defected once then continued to cooperate.I won’t spoil the story of why it was so successful or of the translation of this simple idea into the real-world political arena. That is Robert Axelrod’s story and he tells it well.Have a look at this and you may choose to add some of the ideas to your negotiations too.more
An accessible and comprehensive presentation of Axelrod's work that will appeal to both social scientists and computer geeks. Reading about Axelrod's work in Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas back in high school was one of two things that first got me interested in game theory. Twenty years later, this book may seem quaint; but Axelrod's work in the early 80s blew my mind at the time.more
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