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Facebook unveils a chatbot that can bluff and negotiate

John Jackson (Creative Commons)

In a new paper, Facebook researchers claim an advance in the capacity of chatbots to conduct sophisticated conversations — the ability to negotiate.

In a blog post, artificial intelligence researcher Mike Lewis and four colleagues say they trained chatbots to find a fair resolution of a conflict over possessions. The interesting thing is that the chatbots were started out knowing only their own interests _ which of the possessions they wanted _ and not those of their negotiating opponent. But, speaking grammatical English, they figured out the reasonably just solution by themselves. They even at times employed deceit.

Why it's important: The research must now advance from the narrow focus of this experiment. But the proof of concept suggests more advanced digital assistants than commercially available at the moment that can not only organize your calendar but resolve complex conflicts, such as sales negotiations.