Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Computers are starting to outperform the average human at negotiation

When computer scientist Tim Baarslag had to negotiate the purchase of his new house, he developed an algorithm to help him. Thanks to the algorithm, he managed to buy his favorite house for only $1,500 more than the bid of the next-highest bidder.

Baarslag works at the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), the national research institute for mathematics and computer science in the Netherlands, where he studies how computers can help humans to negotiate better deals. He also is co-organizer of the Automated Negotiating Agents Competition (ANAC), a contest that has been held annually since 2010; this year, it took place in July during the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) in Stockholm, Sweden.

At IJCAI, Baarslag answered some questions for Bennie Mols.

What is the purpose of the Automated Negotiating Agents Competition?
For humans, negotiations are often very complex and stressful; think about buying a house, or negotiating about a job. What if computers can help us with this? That would be great, but then we have to know how well computers perform. With ANAC, we want in the first place to compare negotiating computers in the same domain. The competition is also a way to collect a state of the art repository of negotiating agents and their results. Finally, the competition is a way to steer the academic research.

Read the full article on the website of the ACM.