Autonomy – Do we have the choice?

Interestingly, does this complexity lies in the situation or in our mind ?Some decisions don’t take much time for example when we have to survive on the road while walking or jogging or when we have to decide it’s time to eat. These decision making processes are part of our motor skills and our body works in accordance..or what is autonomy?Let’s understand the autonomy and choice framework in detail, Even though we can not really answer, what is choice or even free will but we can learn other useful things in this process of finding an answer to this intriguing question.Again, we will learn from real life and try to create a principle or framework, which we can apply computationally to create autonomous agents or machines.Human Framework of choiceLet me put you through a situation. Imagine you are on war with your opponent..You don’t even know which ammunition is used for which purpose.You and your opponent can take certain actions. The choice of action depends upon situation and you can decide the action based on your intelligence.  When this war happens for the first time..War is just an intense situation similar to any other life situation where we have to make rational choices..Sports are one set of game.Any situation which requires you to choose is a game.In most of the games, you have few more things -Can you remember your life choices – Did you play games?Yes!.Well, you can play this game again but most of the people don’t have time and money to play this game again.   There is another type of game which is called iterative game which we play again and again and constantly get payoffs..Where agents keep on playing the game by taking the action from choices – [“live”, “die”]. The choice of agents are not intelligent, It is just according to a rule.   Imagine you moved to a city with a new job and trying to figure out the best way to reach the office from your place. It gets interesting from here – Now, not everyday is same, and there are other agents in this game – other people who are also going to office, the cab drivers, the environmental agents such as rain, snow, your mood, your budget and many many more..You may form beliefs about the cab drivers, the weather, other people’s choices which can govern traffic on your route, and strategy to deal with different situations. This valuable information will help you to become better at it, and you need to remember/update this multiple times when you play this game.Our framework of choice has agents, a situation where agents have to make choices, these choices are about actions they can take..Since there are multiple agents, their can be conflict of interest of agents, there can be co-operation and also limitations or constraints while choosing an action.This is formally called a Multi Agent System ( MAS ). I just introduced you to a very interesting kind of science. Study of complex systems. MAS solves design problems such as Supply Chain, Logistics, Organization Design, Policy Designs etc. It has huge value in Artificial Intelligence because of autonomy and rational choice being integral part of it.There is also a very special property of MAS, the global objective of any MAS – The Emergence.    Emergence is a property of the whole system. It is a consequence of actions taken by each agent in this system out of their own objectives – self interests. There can be interesting design problems for achieving a certain emergence.Emergence can be designed as the global objective, and whole system is trying to achieve this objective.We also saw emergence property in Game of Life in my last post. The agents played an iterative game. The action they could take at each iteration was live or die. Their choice of action was fixed and governed by constraints or rules of the game. Here the emergence design problem can be of achieving certain special final state. In this interactive game we could only decide the initial placement of the agents and the game will unfold itself according to its rule.Let me connect you with a real life example, How would you find out solution to this problem -Your city is having chronic traffic problem. How would you adjust fares of multiple transports such that you have a reduced traffic on certain routes at certain time.You may have to consider all agents, their objectives, constraints and limitations. For instance certain limitation could be – to cover all economic class of people, capacity of transports, office and non office hours, location of prime places etc. I won’t go in details of it but this framework can help in dealing with these kind of problems. You can simulate these complex systems of agents by using softwares suitable for designing MAS.In future post we will look at emergence in detail and also with a practical famous example. Later posts will be focused on human decision making, choice and game theory. If we have to solve complex system problem for humans – understanding human decision making and rational choice plays a very important role. Similarly it applies to complex machine systems.There is also a great question for you – Can you identify how many iterative games are you playing in life? Do you wish to convert them to evolutionary games and become better at playing at it. Start with simple negotiations 🙂  Bio: Ashutosh Trivedi is a serial entrepreneur and has built startups with deep Artificial Intelligent technology.. More details

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