Re: The Tragedy of the Commons

From: Brian D Williams (
Date: Mon Jul 23 2001 - 12:58:23 MDT

From: Anders Sandberg <>
>>It evolved into a complete disaster, My boss quickly opted out of
>>the plan and I got to build our own facilities. Now of course I
>>get to completely rebuild the "commons" that got screwed up.

>That part of Hardin's paper is of course entirely correct -
>commons seldom work unless certain extra conditions are imposed
>(like accountability or traceability). What I was disagreeing with
>was more his main thrust of the paper, which was a centrally
>managed environment. Getting away from tragedy of the commons
>situations is a good aim.

Yes, I tended to gloss over the centrally managed enviroment part
as an outdated idea, but it is surprising how many managers I have
dealings with that are completely unaware of the problems of a
"commons" situation.

>This is an area where I think both economics/game theory and
>social psychology have much to offer. You have to tune the
>situation so that the (perceived) best interest of the agents
>coincide with the collective best interest, and ideally do it in
>the least coercive manner possible. When creating institutions or
>software environments from scratch the possibilities are far
>better than when retrofitting rules onto existing institutions or

A very good point, I agree.


Extropy Institute,
National Rifle Association,, 1.800.672.3888
SBC/Ameritech Data Center Chicago, IL, Local 134 I.B.E.W

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