Keywords: deep reinforcement learning, cooperation, social dilemma, multi-agent systems
TL;DR: We show how to use deep RL to construct agents that can solve social dilemmas beyond matrix games.
Abstract: Social dilemmas, where mutual cooperation can lead to high payoffs but participants face incentives to cheat, are ubiquitous in multi-agent interaction. We wish to construct agents that cooperate with pure cooperators, avoid exploitation by pure defectors, and incentivize cooperation from the rest. However, often the actions taken by a partner are (partially) unobserved or the consequences of individual actions are hard to predict. We show that in a large class of games good strategies can be constructed by conditioning one's behavior solely on outcomes (ie. one's past rewards). We call this consequentialist conditional cooperation. We show how to construct such strategies using deep reinforcement learning techniques and demonstrate, both analytically and experimentally, that they are effective in social dilemmas beyond simple matrix games. We also show the limitations of relying purely on consequences and discuss the need for understanding both the consequences of and the intentions behind an action.