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Delegation to autonomous agents promotes cooperation in collective-risk dilemmas

Home assistant chat-bots, self-driving cars, drones or automated negotiations are some of the several examples of autonomous (artificial) agents that have pervaded our society. These agents enable the automation of multiple tasks, saving time and (human) effort. However, their presence in social settings raises the need for a better understanding of their effect on social interactions and how they may be used to enhance cooperation towards the public good, instead of hindering it. To this end, we present an experimental study of human delegation to autonomous agents and hybrid human-agent interactions centered on a public goods dilemma shaped by a collective risk. Our aim to understand experimentally whether the presence of autonomous agents has a positive or negative impact on social behaviour, fairness and cooperation in such a dilemma. Our results show that cooperation increases when participants delegate their actions to an artificial agent that plays on their behalf. Yet, this positive effect is reduced when humans interact in hybrid human-agent groups. Finally, we show that humans are biased towards agent behaviour, assuming that they will contribute less to the collective effort.


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