Facebook’s Negotiation Bots Create Insider Lingo, Learn To Lie

It might soon be time to reboot an old TV show about kids, only this time with a new title: "Bots Say the Darndest Things." Because Facebook researchers have found that chatbots trained in negotiations will sometimes invent strange new ways to use language to improve their odds of success.

The team at Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) also discovered that bots can learn to lie when trying to strike a deal. Why? To make it look like they're giving up something of greater value when agreeing to trades.

In addition to publishing their findings, Facebook researchers also released open source code so other researchers and developers can work to fine-tune chatbots' reasoning, conversational, and negotiating skills. Improving those capabilities, are all "key steps in building a personalized digital assistant," they said.

Building Bots for 'Meaningful Conversations'

"To date, existing work on chatbots has led to systems that can hold short conversations and perform simple tasks such as booking a restaurant," the FAIR research team wrote last month on Facebook's Code blog. "But building machines that can hold meaningful conversations with people is challenging because it requires a bot to combine its understanding of the conversation with its knowledge of the world, and then produce a new sentence that helps it achieve its goals."

Facebook's researchers set up their chatbot negotiation experiments by giving two AI agents a collection of virtual items and then instructing them to negotiate how best to split the goods between them. Each chatbot placed a different value, which the other chatbot didn't know, on individual items, and each bot was told ending with no deal would result in a loss for both of them.

"Simply put, negotiation is essential, and good negotiation results in better performance," the FAIR researchers noted. In their research paper, published June 16 on...

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