A few good men can transform society
This article is about modelling human societies through simple cellular automata. It shows many interesting emergent behaviours, and how you can resolve the iterated prisoners dilemma with a few good men and true. But can too much information be a bad thing?
"There are plenty of different cities and countries that have gone from a high degree of corruption to a low degree of corruption," Hammond says. His A-society suggests that in such a transition, the fear of being caught may be at least as important as the odds of actually being caught. To test that possibility, Hammond re-ran his simulation, but this time he allowed all the agents to know not just how many of their friends were in jail but how many people were jailed throughout the whole society: in other words, the agents knew the odds of arrest as well as the police did. Sure enough, fully informed agents never got scared enough to reform. Hammond's A-society seemed to have "grown" a piece of knowledge that many law-enforcement agencies (think of the Internal Revenue Service, with its targeted, high-profile audits) have long intuited - namely, that limited resources are often more effectively spent on fearsome, and fearsomely unpredictable, high-profile sweeps than on uniform and thus easily second-guessed patterns of enforcement.