Friday, June 16, 2017

The Prisoner's Dilemma

While most people know this as a part of game theory, it is in practice a very powerful tool in the hands of judicial officials trying to secure convictions in the face of criminal conspiracy. The key to making this work is to ensure that there is no reliable communication between the suspects.

As with the game theory variant, we discuss the case of two suspects in custody with no communication between them. There are two basic flavors of the prisoner's dilemma approach, but as long as there is no reliable communication between the suspects, both flavors should work. The first flavor of the prisoner's dilemma tool kit is to offer a deal to both suspects to rat each other out. The second variant is to offer one suspect the deal and then use the offer to lure the second suspect into testifying against the first.

The ideal situation from the prosecutor's point of view is that both suspects rat each other out and offer up substantiation of their testimony. The material evidence provided by each suspect can be used against a third suspect or against any of the two suspects. The prosecutor may decide independently that there is no sense in making good on the offer of a deal with either suspect - and a caveat is always attached to the deal offer.

Now that I have laid that background out for you - most of you should be able to see how this might be at work in recent events.  I want to add a few comments and hopefully this will be useful to you when you think about such matters. Do I wish we didn't have to think such things? yes - I do but that is not where reality has taken us.

This is what we know so far (IMHO).

0) Data intercepts from "Five Eyes"(FVEY) and USIC had suggested that the Trump Campaign was making deals with Russia to end sanctions on the Putin Regime. In exchange for Donald Trump removing the sanctions, President Putin would aid his election through an electronic voter targeting campaign. The RIS and its proxies would identify voters who were likely to vote for HRC and target them with specific disinformation or they would hack the voter rolls and introduce discrepancies into their voter records. Any discrepancies created by the RIS hackers on the voter rolls would be used by GOP controlled state elections boards to run a voter suppression campaign against democratic party voters.

1) In order to substantiate the picture produced by electronic surveillance from disparate channels, the FBI began a deep dive into the financial dealings of the Trump Corporation. The suspicion was that there was a "gold seam" hidden in those transactions that would clearly link the RIS with the Trump regime.

2) It seems that the data intercepts by FVEY and USIC went back many years and this had made Trump a "person of interest" for the FBI, but after delving into the Trump corporation's financial dealings, the FBI found itself obstructed by Donald Trump. As of yesterday Robert Mueller has told us that Trump is being investigated for obstruction. This means that members of the Trump regime are legitimate targets of a criminal inquiry.

3)  As any conspiracy of such a nature would be vast in its spread, the FBI will have no choice but to treat this as it would any other case against a major crime syndicate. Everyone is essentially a suspect no matter how minor they are and they all get the same treatment - i.e. they are all put into the prisoner's dilemma.

4) The pressure of this investigation will be so vast that no suspect will be able to resist for very long. We can anticipate a steadily rising number of defectors as individuals cut deals to save themselves. It is also likely that the pressure imposed by the investigation will be too much for Trump himself to bear and he will likely do something silly like trying to fire Robert Mueller. It would not be surprising if he ditches Mike Pence and his own kids as the weeks wear on.

5) From the RIS perspective, I feel if Trump makes a spectacle of himself - it will be more profitable for the RIS to deliberately plant information that suggests Trump and Russia are tied at the hip. Regardless of whether it is true, that viewpoint will allow the RIS to make a clean breast of it all. The RIS will simply say "Yes we worked with him because we were suffering under your sanctions and we were desperate, when Trump named a price we jumped at it - don't look at us - this is all on him and you! - we were just protecting our legitimate national interests."

6) The GOP for its part must now decide what role it wants to play in this tragedy. Does it want to be remembered as the racist dupes who fell for Trump's charade and tried to destroy America or do they want to be remembered as traitors who knowingly followed orders from Russia to destroy America? My guess is that the GOPers supporting Trump will fragment into two factions. Faction 1 which didn't actually know about the RIS angle (they will claim the racist dupe label) and Faction 2 which did know about the RIS angle (they will deny the traitor label but make no attempt to seize the racist dupe label). There will be a few floaters that go between these groups but my guess is that intercine warfare between them will think the floaters down to a minimum.


At 3:34 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

your use of the word intercine caught my eye. it is a misspelling of the word internecine which means in most usage as mutually destructive conflict. it is pronounced as inter-knee-seen.

for most of my adult life I thought it was spelled like internicine pronounced like inter-nigh-seen and had to do with the early religious biblical council. LOL. I think it is a result of me having an accounting-infosys degree and not a liberal arts degree.

most GOPers will try to sit through the trump cycle w/o losing their seats hoping the next election will clear things up with him tweeting himself into oblivion..

At 5:02 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Dear Ralphy,

Thank you for the correction.

What you say does appear to be the central GOPer calculus. The GOPer calculus seems to rest on the idea that house and senate elections are driven by local issues but I suspect GA06 has put that notion to the test.

I feel it is too early to tell whether the GOP will be able to use vague references to God and guns to dupe its predominantly white vote bank into submission again. It is likely this will work because the targets have been conditioned for years to accept arguments when framed with the right trigger words, but no conditioning regime is perfect and there are always outliers who can polarize a situation.

Between RIS assisted voter roll manipulation, RW-friendly Sheriffs, and pliable state election board officials who aid in voter suppression efforts, it seems all too easy to guarantee that the GOP candidates are re-elected even if their active measures fail to secure enough turnout from the voter base.

The only issue to me is whether the GOP will be able to pay for all this. The GOP has drained its traditional sources of income dry. I am not certain if RIS will be able to lend them money to pull this off as domestic pressures on Putin are rising. The usual "late entrants" into the Billionaires club (Barring Lucky Palmer, Thiel, Mercer and Koch Bros) are not in a position to support GOP much longer. It's not that they don't have money - it is more that they aren't sure what their money actually buys them. Alex Karp might throw in a few million but his help will likely be more in kind than actual $$.


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