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Current Issue of Nature


Current Issue : Nature

Current Issue

Volume 545 Number 7654 pp265-380

18 May 2017

About the cover

A group’s collective action towards a common goal, even if everyone’s interests are aligned, faces a ‘coordination’ problem: an individual’s attempts to reach a solution that is optimal for him or her locally may not be optimal for the group as a whole. In this issue, Nicholas Christakis and Hirokazu Shirado demonstrate a potential solution to this problem in the shape of autonomous software (artificial intelligence) agents, or ‘bots’. They introduced simple bots into small networks of humans engaged in solving a standard colour coordination game — in which the collective goal is for every node to have a colour different from all of its neighbour nodes — thus creating a ‘heterogeneous system’ of humans and bots. They found that using the bots to introduce noise into the decision-making process could improve the overall performance of the group. The noisy bots worked best when they were placed centrally in the network and they displayed moderate (10%) randomness. Under these conditions, the bots not only improved human–bot interactions but also human–human interactions at distant nodes, thereby helping humans to help themselves. Cover image: Cavan Huang

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