Facebook Is Working On Bots That Can Negotiate For You

Facebook Is Working On Bots That Can Negotiate For You
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The Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research Group's latest project is meant to push the conception of what AI is capable of

Ido Lechner, Home Editor
  • 7 july 2017

Negotiating can be a daunting task for many individuals hoping to get a little more than what’s being offered, so in order to score you a better deal than the one you were about to compulsively accept, Facebook is commissioning a Messenger chatbot to do that uncomfortable work for you. Facebook’s artificial intelligence research group’s (FAIR) latest project builds upon its large body of research accumulated over the years in an endeavor to prove that AI can be adept at carrying meaningful conversations by thinking a few steps ahead, rather than following the traditional short form natural language conversation processes present in the other chatbots on the platform.

While its unclear just how sophisticated this chatbot is as of yet, nor is there a publicly accessible timeline to view intended dates of commercialization (should there be any), the social media giant believes it can fulfill deeper tasks than quick commands you’d normally associate it with, such as scheduling meetings between two busy people, determining a desirable sale price for different consumer products or finding a mutually satisfactory time to go to the movies.

At the core of the project is a brand-new technique unveiled by Facebook dubbed ‘dialogue rollouts,’ which sees the respective bot simulating how a negotiation might play out based on context clues to then figure out the best possible outcome. In this sense, we may even begin to see a subtle war between chat bots trying to reach a ‘maximum desirable score’ for the respective individual they’re representing – that is, a ranking system compiled by the AI with your most preferred outcome being that highest score.

Of course, since a stalemate (or in other words two non-budging negotiators) would result in a score of zero, the most critical piece for FAIR research scientists is to devise a system in which both parties are capable of compromising to reach the highest possible score while still tending to each other’s interests. This proves challenging, especially when one party seems to have an upper hand, and doesn’t need to compromise as much because they bare more value to the other guy than vice versa.

While FAIR still has its work cut out for it, the Facebook branch’s scientists have confirmed their excitement in watching the bots mature and learn how to be better negotiators over time. In a paper they wrote that they observed their bots sending the last message less often, “which we can insinuate means they’re proposing the final agreement more often than accepting the counter offers” according to FB researcher Mike Lewis. Another researcher, Druhv Batra, adds, “[They were able to] figure out that one negotiation strategy is to ask for more than what you want, and then concede. No human told them that. It emerged naturally.”

Facebook

Negotiating can be a daunting task for many individuals hoping to get a little more than what’s being offered, so in order to score you a better deal than the one you were about to compulsively accept, Facebook is commissioning a Messenger chatbot to do that uncomfortable work for you. Facebook’s artificial intelligence research group’s (FAIR) latest project builds upon its large body of research accumulated over the years in an endeavor to prove that AI can be adept at carrying meaningful conversations by thinking a few steps ahead, rather than following the traditional short form natural language conversation processes present in the other chatbots on the platform.

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