HCMD-zero: Learning Value Aligned Mechanisms from Data

by   Jan Balaguer, et al.

Artificial learning agents are mediating a larger and larger number of interactions among humans, firms, and organizations, and the intersection between mechanism design and machine learning has been heavily investigated in recent years. However, mechanism design methods often make strong assumptions on how participants behave (e.g. rationality), on the kind of knowledge designers have access to a priori (e.g. access to strong baseline mechanisms), or on what the goal of the mechanism should be (e.g. total welfare). Here we introduce HCMD-zero, a general purpose method to construct mechanisms making none of these three assumptions. HCMD-zero learns to mediate interactions among participants and adjusts the mechanism parameters to make itself more likely to be preferred by participants. It does so by remaining engaged in an electoral contest with copies of itself, thereby accessing direct feedback from participants. We test our method on a stylized resource allocation game that highlights the tension between productivity, equality and the temptation to free ride. HCMD-zero produces a mechanism that is preferred by human participants over a strong baseline, it does so automatically, without requiring prior knowledge, and using human behavioral trajectories sparingly and effectively. Our analysis shows HCMD-zero consistently makes the mechanism policy more and more likely to be preferred by human participants over the course of training, and that it results in a mechanism with an interpretable and intuitive policy.


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