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Publication Detail
Cooperation and Reputation Dynamics with Reinforcement Learning
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Anastassacos N, GarcĂ­a J, Hailes S, Musolesi M
  • Publisher:
  • Publication date:
  • Published proceedings:
    Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS 2021)
  • Name of conference:
    20th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS 2021)
  • Conference place:
    Virtual Event United Kingdom
  • Conference start date:
  • Conference finish date:
  • Keywords:
    cs.MA, cs.MA, cs.AI
  • Notes:
    Published in AAMAS'21, 9 pages
Creating incentives for cooperation is a challenge in natural and artificial systems. One potential answer is reputation, whereby agents trade the immediate cost of cooperation for the future benefits of having a good reputation. Game theoretical models have shown that specific social norms can make cooperation stable, but how agents can independently learn to establish effective reputation mechanisms on their own is less understood. We use a simple model of reinforcement learning to show that reputation mechanisms generate two coordination problems: agents need to learn how to coordinate on the meaning of existing reputations and collectively agree on a social norm to assign reputations to others based on their behavior. These coordination problems exhibit multiple equilibria, some of which effectively establish cooperation. When we train agents with a standard Q-learning algorithm in an environment with the presence of reputation mechanisms, convergence to undesirable equilibria is widespread. We propose two mechanisms to alleviate this: (i) seeding a proportion of the system with fixed agents that steer others towards good equilibria; and (ii), intrinsic rewards based on the idea of introspection, i.e., augmenting agents' rewards by an amount proportionate to the performance of their own strategy against themselves. A combination of these simple mechanisms is successful in stabilizing cooperation, even in a fully decentralized version of the problem where agents learn to use and assign reputations simultaneously. We show how our results relate to the literature in Evolutionary Game Theory, and discuss implications for artificial, human and hybrid systems, where reputations can be used as a way to establish trust and cooperation.
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