Getting to greener Bitcoin

“Renewable Energy Development in the California Desert” by mypubliclands is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Where to next?

Amartya Sen won the Nobel Prize in economics for his work on choice theory, which seeks to understand how events will unfold by looking at people’s choices (such as the prisoner’s dilemma [1]). In preference-based theory of rational choice under certainty, a set of alternatives are specified and the agent then orders these in a consistent way (the ‘rational’ part). And yet Sen was sceptical of the ability to understand choice outcomes without knowing a person’s underlying preferences [2]. This scepticism became key to his development of the capability approach, which looks beyond a person’s rights to their actual ability to achieve well-being and freedom.


[1] In the prisoner’s dilemma game, two convicts, held in separate cells, are given the choice to protect their fellow convict and not admit to the crime, or confess to the crime, thereby giving up their partner. If the convict chooses to inform on their partner then they will be set free and their fellow-convict is jailed. If both choose to protect their partner then both receive a lower sentence, as there is not enough evidence to convict either of the full crime. If both choose to admit to the crime then both are jailed for a medium sentence. When the convicts do not know each other’s choice, the logical ‘play’ is to defect (turn in their partner) regardless of whether the partner chooses to defect on their fellow-convict or not. However, when the game is run where the second convict is informed that the first is willing to collude (cooperate) with them, or when the first player is told that their choice will be communicated to the second player, in the majority of cases players choose to collude (extract from my book with Aneta Podkalicka).



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Ellie Rennie

Ellie Rennie


Professor at RMIT University, Melbourne. Australian Research Council Future Fellow 2020–2025: “Cooperation Through Code” (FT190100372) Twitter: @elinorrennie