Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

How Science Can Enable A More Cooperative Future

By Christopher Fry and Henry Lieberman

Why do we have war, poverty and other social ills, despite the fact that nobody wants these things? Is it that people have some kind of inborn aggression and stupidity that won't go away?

We don't think so. What happens is that, despite their best intentions, people tend to fall into a trap. That trap has a name: The Prisoner's Dilemma. The Prisoner's Dilemma is a mathematical model of the tradeoff between cooperation and competition. Our problem is that everything in our society is set up for competition, preventing us from cooperating with each other to solve our major problems.

The good news is that technological advances will help us get that tradeoff right for the modern era. Not just by improving productivity, but in a surprising way: By making it easier for people to cooperate with one another.

The main reason to compete is when there's scarcity. But soon, with AI and 3D printing, we'll be able to make
what we need. We can end widespread scarcity. We don't have to fight each other. Then we'll all live happily ever after!

TEDx BeaconStreet (Boston), Nov 5, 2017 videos

The talk

Backstage interview of Fry

Backstage interview of Henry