Partner Selection for the Emergence of Cooperation in Multi-Agent Systems Using Reinforcement Learning

  • Nicolas Anastassacos The Alan Turing Institute
  • Stephen Hailes University College London
  • Mirco Musolesi University College London


Social dilemmas have been widely studied to explain how humans are able to cooperate in society. Considerable effort has been invested in designing artificial agents for social dilemmas that incorporate explicit agent motivations that are chosen to favor coordinated or cooperative responses. The prevalence of this general approach points towards the importance of achieving an understanding of both an agent's internal design and external environment dynamics that facilitate cooperative behavior. In this paper, we investigate how partner selection can promote cooperative behavior between agents who are trained to maximize a purely selfish objective function. Our experiments reveal that agents trained with this dynamic learn a strategy that retaliates against defectors while promoting cooperation with other agents resulting in a prosocial society.

AAAI Technical Track: Multiagent Systems