Free-Rider Brainstorming

A post by Larry Dunbar on the Free Rider Problem got me thinking:

The concept “free rider” comes from economics. Free-riding occurs when an actor has no incentive to perform an activity, but benefits from other actors doing the activity.

It is really a problem of incentives and lack of negative feedback. The international system is not controlled – so how does one go about creating proper incentives and feedback systems when there isn’t much in the way of compliance enforcement?

Hey, now this sound like the prisoner’s dilemma. If both sides take benevolent actions, both sides get a reward. But if one sides cheats ( takes a non-benevolent action), the cheating side gets an over-sized reward relative to the other side. So, to get the over-sized reward, both sides cheat thinking that is the best choice. The dilemma, when both sides cheat there is a small under-sized reward.

The international system could be thought of as a series of over-lapping parallel prisoner dilemma games. If large numbers of actors can be convinced to be benevolent (buy into a global rules set of incentives, feedback systems, compliance, and enforcement), then there will be large rewards.

Anyways, I think there is rich untapped material in the concepts of microeconomics and behavioral economics that can applied to any emerging 5GW theory.

I am interested in 5GW theory (among other things) as another means of creating global actors who act in mutually beneficial ways (global rule-sets) leading to economic growth, human capital maximization, security, liberty, opportunity, enrichment, and peace for all.

Oh crap, am I an idealist?


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