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am 2. Mai 2000
Sometimes, the individual benefit seems to conflict with the benefit of the community as whole, even though the community includes this very individuum. One such example has been formulated as the Prisonner's Dilemma: two suspects, A and B, are arrested, and kept separated so that they cannot communicate. If they continue to cooperate, they will be both sentenced to one year. However, if suspect A cooperates, but suspect B defects, A is going to be sentenced to five years, and suspect B will be released. Vice versa, if B cooperates and A defects, A will be released and B sentenced to five years. Finally, if both defect, they will both be sentenced to three years each.

It is clear that the best solution for both of them is cooperation. On the other hand, each individual is also tempted to maximize his own individual benefit. And each of them benefits most if he decides to defect, which in turn brings the worst possible outcome for both (six years total). So one-shot Prisonner's Dilemma rarely leads to cooperation. Now, what if the very two chaps are later arrested again? Will they cooperate when given another chance? Or if they know they will face the same situation every five years? Professor Axelrod tested the iterated Prisonner's Dilemma with computer programs, and investigated under which circumstances cooperation can emerge.

The book is nicely scattered with fragments of game theory and examples from world politics. All in all, as Richard Dawkins has commented in the foreword to its British edition, in breathes with optimism, and is a delight to read. Still, it has one problem, and actually shares it with Dawkins: the book reaches its climax right at the beginning. The book starts with a strong and very convincing idea, but later fails to keep the same pace of dynamic. The idea is splendid, but the structure of the book could be enhanced.
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am 12. März 1999
This book has a wonderful first chapter that Axelrod repeats throughout the book. Axelrod uses computer simulations to develop game theory and devise strategies that result in collaborative behaiviors. While Axelrod's findings can be applied to other fields, such as politics or interpersonal relationships, it should be noted that Axelrod is dealing with very precisely (and arbitrarily) defined initial conditions and constraints that are not at all gauranteed to exist outside the world of computer simulations. Generally speaking, the first chapter is excellent and offers a ray of hope that collaborative behaiviors can and will evolve on their own; on the other hand, the rest of the book is repetative and highly arbitrary.
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am 24. August 1998
This book is a stunningly lucid combination of game theory, computer science, strategy and evolutionary psychology. I always eschew any kind of 'business' book, and encountered this in the course of a computer research project, but it has had great influence on my thinking in a variety of personal and professional fields.
From first principles, and using ingenious empirical techniques, the author extrapolates from a simple so-called 'prisoner's dilemma' (would you betray a friend to save your neck?) right out to some extremely persuasive and general lessons on the conduct of potentially adversarial relationships.
The conclusions he draws are both powerful in their application, and refreshingly humane in what they imply for optimal behaviour in stable societies.
I'd rate this above even Kuhn's 'structure of scientific revolutions' as a piece of nominally scientific writing that has widespread relevance beyond the field for which it was intended.
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am 11. Januar 1997
Basing his work on computer models acting out strategies posited by scientists of every stripe, Professor Axelrod shows that there are indeed strategies that are to be preferred over others -- and some to be rejected altogether.

Perhaps "The Golden Rule" is not all it's cracked up to be!

What emerges from all this scrutiny is a hopeful picture for bacteria as well as entire countries. . . and everything in between.

We needn't continue to allow relationships to deteriorate. We can learn that it is simply good strategy to cooperate, even if cooperation means cutting off communications.

There is much grist for everyone in this little book -- from friends and lovers trying to get along better, to nations at each other's throat.

By learning (and teaching) these simple strategies and principles, anyone can make their lives, and the lives of those around you, improve.

This book is hot! Already, hundreds of other works have been spawned from this one.

This is the horse's mouth.
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am 1. September 1999
This book is a must-read not only for students (broadly defined) of the social sciences, but also for politicians and bureaucrats, especially those in charge of military and foreign affairs. Axelrod's book is a tour-de-force in multi-method approaches. Although the author is a trifle repetitive and occasionally laborious, I think the profound content of the book far outweighs the minor inadequacies of its form. At the risk of sounding like a logical positivist, I would venture to say that Axelrod's approach offers hope for a bottom-up construction of cooperation in an uncertain world without a central authority.
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am 13. Januar 1998
I read this book in a Readings in Administration class at Harvard Business School about 10 years ago. It has had more impact on the way I do business than any other book I have ever read. You can "lose" every business deal you ever are in, in the sense that the person on the other side of the transaction gets more than you do, and still "win" in terms of accumulating more wealth overall. If this book keeps you out of one court battle, its worth its weight in gold.
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am 9. August 1995
This is one of the most important books in social, evolutionary, and moral theory. It is also a powerful message of hope. Axelrod shows that cooperation, rather than backstabbing or predation, can "win" the evolutionary struggle. This work has inspired a whole new field of research, and it is also a great read
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am 3. September 1999
The message (basically, "tit-for-tat behavior wins") is important. But the book is 200 pages long (not counting the appendix) and it's repetitive as hell. For me it was VERY difficult to cull the half sentence of new content from a paragraph of stuff that was repeated for the fifth time.
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am 10. Mai 1998
I read this book in a philosophy class at Notre Dame and learned a great deal about relationships between people. I was, and still am, fascinated by the book's examination of cooperation and its theories on how that cooperation is fostered. My copy is filled with pen marks and comments. I recommend the read to anyone willing to take the time to truly think about the subject matter.
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