Scientists have created a new artificial intelligence system that can negotiate a compromise and maintain relationships more effectively than humans
Researchers programmed machines with an algorithm called S# and ran them through a variety of two-player games to see how well they would cooperate in certain relationships
The team from Brigham Young University (BYU) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US tested machine-machine, human-machine and human-human interactions
In most instances, machines programmed with S# outperformed humans in finding compromises that benefit both parties
"The end goal is that we understand the mathematics behind cooperation with people and what attributes artificial intelligence (AI) needs to develop social skills," said Jacob Crandall from BYU
"AI needs to be able to respond to us and articulate what it's doing. It has to be able to interact with other people," he said
If two humans were honest with each other and loyal, they would have done as well as two machines, Crandall said
"As it is, about half of the humans lied at some point. So essentially, this particular algorithm is learning that moral characteristics are good. It's programmed to not lie, and it also learns to maintain cooperation once it emerges," he said
Researchers further fortified the machines' ability to cooperate by programming them with a range of "cheap talk" phrases.
In tests, if human participants cooperated with the machine, the machine might respond with a "Sweet. We are getting rich!" or "I accept your last proposal."
If the participants tried to betray the machine or back out of a deal with them, they might be met with a trash- talking "Curse you!," "You will pay for that!" or even an "In your face!"
Regardless of the game or pairing, cheap talk doubled the amount of cooperation. When machines used cheap talk, their human counterparts were often unable to tell whether they were playing a human or machine.
The research findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, could have long-term implications for human relationships.
"In society, relationships break down all the time. People that were friends for years all of a sudden become enemies," Crandall said
"Because the machine is often actually better at reaching these compromises than we are, it can potentially teach us how to do this better," he said.