Modeling evidential cooperation in large worlds

arXiv (Cornell University)(2023)

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Evidential cooperation in large worlds (ECL) refers to the idea that humans and other agents can benefit by cooperating with similar agents with differing values in causally disconnected parts of a large universe. Cooperating provides agents with evidence that other similar agents are likely to cooperate too, resulting in gains from trade for all. This could be a crucial consideration for altruists. I develop a game-theoretic model of ECL as an incomplete information bargaining problem. The model incorporates uncertainty about others' value systems and empirical situations, and addresses the problem of selecting a compromise outcome. Using the model, I investigate issues with ECL and outline open technical and philosophical questions. I show that all cooperators must maximize the same weighted sum of utility functions to reach a Pareto optimal outcome. However, I argue against selecting a compromise outcome implicitly by normalizing utility functions. I review bargaining theory and argue that the Nash bargaining solution could be a relevant Schelling point. I introduce dependency equilibria (Spohn 2007), an equilibrium concept suitable for ECL, and generalize a folk theorem showing that the Nash bargaining solution is a dependency equilibrium. I discuss gains from trade given uncertain beliefs about other agents and analyze how these gains decrease in several toy examples as the belief in another agent decreases. Finally, I discuss open issues in my model. First, the Nash bargaining solution is sometimes not coalitionally stable, meaning that a subset of cooperators can unilaterally improve payoffs by deviating from the compromise. I investigate conditions under which stable payoff vectors exist. Second, I discuss how to model agents' default actions without ECL.
evidential cooperation,large worlds
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