Trading robots left unattended collude on their own

Humanity trades in the online space with might and main and makes purchases in automated virtual stores, often without thinking - who is the seller? Who is responsible for the price tags on goods? Back in 2015, at least a third of all transactions on Amazon were serviced by special trading algorithms - in fact, highly specialized robots. Suspicions about them have been accumulating for a long time, and here is the result - it has been proven that collusion between such systems is inevitable.

Trading algorithms are very similar to AI with reduced functionality. They know how to analyze the market situation, learn from their mistakes, and their goal is always the same - to maximize profits. To prevent robots from causing chaos, they have restrictions on the maximum values ​​of price tags, but no one specifically monitors the pricing policy in general. Too large volume of operations - which the robots did not fail to take advantage of.

As Professors Emilio Calvano and Giacomo Calzolari from the University of Bologna (Italy) explain, there is no concept of "trade wars" in these algorithms, but they came to it themselves. More precisely, they decided that it was necessary to exclude them for the common good, for which they entered into an agreement. Scientists conducted dozens of experiments that clearly showed how a system of two or more robot participants came into a state of collusion. AI did not negotiate directly, they do not have such an opportunity, but the robots themselves were divided into a leader and followers, who adjusted their policies to suit him. And they stopped dumping.

What struck the professors most was that AIs learned to collude differently from humans. They did not study the environment, did not receive instructions, did not use special tools and schemes, in the absence of such, did not coordinate their actions. But persistently, by trial and error, they themselves mastered what the University of Bologna called "the foundations of capitalism for robots." This is when the goal is set - the maximum profit - and the AI ​​develops the methods for achieving it.