February 20th, 2013

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We're Going on A Stag Hunt!

We're going on a stag hunt
We're going to get a big one, because we work cooperatively
What a beautiful day!
We're not scared the other parties will abandon us and chase rabbits

Where did everyone else go?

This blog post illustrates a problem in game theory called the Stag Hunt and its implications. As the author notes, the Stag Hunt is much less well known than its more famous cousin, the Prisoner's Dilemma. I am beginning to think the Stag Hunt may have significant implications for network interconnection, especially as we move from a high trust environment to a low trust environment.

Briefly, the Stag Hunt is a cooperative game with multiple hunters. They must cooperate to bring down a stag. Alternatively, each hunter can chase rabbits. It is far more beneficial for the group to bring down a stag, but hunting a stag is riskier than hunting a rabbit since stags are rarer than rabbits and because a hunter may defect from the hunt and decide 'screw it, I'm hungry. I'm bagging me one of those rabbits.'

In the networking environment, we are moving from more cooperative behavior to less cooperative behavior for a wide variety of reasons. This has interesting implications with regard to how networks will function going forward.