Similarity-based cooperative equilibrium

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Caspar Oesterheld, Johannes Treutlein, Roger B. Grosse, Vincent Conitzer, Jakob Foerster


As machine learning agents act more autonomously in the world, they will increasingly interact with each other. Unfortunately, in many social dilemmas like the one-shot Prisoner’s Dilemma, standard game theory predicts that ML agents will fail to cooperate with each other. Prior work has shown that one way to enable cooperative outcomes in the one-shot Prisoner’s Dilemma is to make the agents mutually transparent to each other, i.e., to allow them to access one another’s source code (Rubinstein, 1998; Tennenholtz, 2004) – or weights in the case of ML agents. However, full transparency is often unrealistic, whereas partial transparency is commonplace. Moreover, it is challenging for agents to learn their way to cooperation in the full transparency setting. In this paper, we introduce a more realistic setting in which agents only observe a single number indicating how similar they are to each other. We prove that this allows for the same set of cooperative outcomes as the full transparency setting. We also demonstrate experimentally that cooperation can be learned using simple ML methods.