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Using Games to Explore Collective Action on International Scales

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One of the salient challenges of sustainability is the Tragedy of the Commons, where individuals acting independently and rationally deplete a common resource despite their understanding that it is not in the group's long term best interest to do so.

One of the salient challenges of sustainability is the Tragedy of the Commons, where individuals acting independently and rationally deplete a common resource despite their understanding that it is not in the group's long term best interest to do so. Hardin presents this dilemma as nearly intractable and solvable only by drastic, government-mandated social reforms, while Ostrom's empirical work demonstrates that community-scale collaboration can circumvent tragedy without any elaborate outside intervention. Though more optimistic, Ostrom's work provides scant insight into larger-scale dilemmas such as climate change. Consequently, it remains unclear if the sustainable management of global resources is possible without significant government mediation. To investigate, we conducted two game theoretic experiments that challenged students in different countries to collaborate digitally and manage a hypothetical common resource. One experiment involved students attending Arizona State University and the Rochester Institute of Technology in the US and Mountains of the Moon University in Uganda, while the other included students at Arizona State and the Management Development Institute in India. In both experiments, students were randomly assigned to one of three production roles: Luxury, Intermediate, and Subsistence. Students then made individual decisions about how many units of goods they wished to produce up to a set maximum per production class. Luxury players gain the most profit (i.e. grade points) per unit produced, but they also emit the most externalities, or social costs, which directly subtract from the profit of everybody else in the game; Intermediate players produce a medium amount of profit and externalities per unit, and Subsistence players produce a low amount of profit and externalities per unit. Variables influencing and/or inhibiting collaboration were studied using pre- and post-game surveys. This research sought to answer three questions: 1) Are international groups capable of self-organizing in a way that promotes sustainable resource management?, 2) What are the key factors that inhibit or foster collective action among international groups?, and 3) How well do Hardin's theories and Ostrom's empirical models predict the observed behavior of students in the game? The results of gameplay suggest that international cooperation is possible, though likely sub-optimal. Statistical analysis of survey data revealed that heterogeneity and levels of trust significantly influenced game behavior. Specific traits of heterogeneity among students found to be significant were income, education, assigned production role, number of people in one's household, college class, college major, and military service. Additionally, it was found that Ostrom's collective action framework was a better predictor of game outcome than Hardin's theories. Overall, this research lends credence to the plausibility of international cooperation in tragedy of the commons scenarios such as climate change, though much work remains to be done.

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2014-12

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Effect of chaos and complex wave pattern formation in multiple physical systems: relativistic quantum tunneling, optical meta-materials, and co-evolutionary game theory

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What can classical chaos do to quantum systems is a fundamental issue highly relevant to a number of branches in physics. The field of quantum chaos has been active for three decades, where the focus was on non-relativistic quantumsystems described

What can classical chaos do to quantum systems is a fundamental issue highly relevant to a number of branches in physics. The field of quantum chaos has been active for three decades, where the focus was on non-relativistic quantumsystems described by the Schr¨odinger equation. By developing an efficient method to solve the Dirac equation in the setting where relativistic particles can tunnel between two symmetric cavities through a potential barrier, chaotic cavities are found to suppress the spread in the tunneling rate. Tunneling rate for any given energy assumes a wide range that increases with the energy for integrable classical dynamics. However, for chaotic underlying dynamics, the spread is greatly reduced. A remarkable feature, which is a consequence of Klein tunneling, arise only in relativistc quantum systems that substantial tunneling exists even for particle energy approaching zero. Similar results are found in graphene tunneling devices, implying high relevance of relativistic quantum chaos to the development of such devices. Wave propagation through random media occurs in many physical systems, where interesting phenomena such as branched, fracal-like wave patterns can arise. The generic origin of these wave structures is currently a matter of active debate. It is of fundamental interest to develop a minimal, paradigmaticmodel that can generate robust branched wave structures. In so doing, a general observation in all situations where branched structures emerge is non-Gaussian statistics of wave intensity with an algebraic tail in the probability density function. Thus, a universal algebraic wave-intensity distribution becomes the criterion for the validity of any minimal model of branched wave patterns. Coexistence of competing species in spatially extended ecosystems is key to biodiversity in nature. Understanding the dynamical mechanisms of coexistence is a fundamental problem of continuous interest not only in evolutionary biology but also in nonlinear science. A continuous model is proposed for cyclically competing species and the effect of the interplay between the interaction range and mobility on coexistence is investigated. A transition from coexistence to extinction is uncovered with a non-monotonic behavior in the coexistence probability and switches between spiral and plane-wave patterns arise. Strong mobility can either promote or hamper coexistence, while absent in lattice-based models, can be explained in terms of nonlinear partial differential equations.

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2012