An understanding of the factors that drive conflict between individuals and groups provides a valuable lens for thinking about risks from competition between AI stakeholders and AI systems in the future.

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Review Questions

How does bargaining theory explain the occurrence of conflict despite the potential for less harmful outcomes through negotiation?


Bargaining theory offers explanations for why two parties might engage in conflict even if mutual settlement through bargaining could result in less harmful outcomes. Key issues include commitment problems, where parties cannot credibly commit to a particular settlement due to selfish incentives to act otherwise, and information problems which make it unclear what the cost of a conflict might be and what its outcome would be.

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Outline 3 factors that might promote conflict instead of negotiation between AI agents, or between human and AI agents.


Relevant factors include:

1. Power shifts: there are shifts in the relative power and bargaining positions of two parties, which creates incentives to attack first or conversely to wait rather than committing to a negotiated outcome.

2. Information problems and incentives to misrepresent: Uncertainty regarding a rival’s capabilities and intentions generates information problems and incentives to misrepresent

3. Issue indivisibility: a negotiated settlement is not possible because the two parties cannot split up between them the value that they are competing over.

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