Life, Death and Game Theory in South Africa

Although I do not wish to minimize the potential human tragedy in the mining dispute, the afficionado of game theory cannot help but be fascinated by this real-world test.
Photographer: Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images

When I teach my courses on the ethics of warfare, I like to tease the students with Nobel economics laureate Thomas Schelling's advice for winning a game of chicken. As you speed toward the other driver, says Schelling, toss the steering wheel out the car window, to persuade your opponent that you won't be the first to turn away. Your irrationality frightens him. He swerves first; you win.

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