University of Southampton
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 11:43 UTC
Crowdsourcing provides the ability to accomplish information-gathering tasks that require the involvement of a large number of people, often across wide-spread geographies, expertise, or interests.
However, researchers from the University of Southampton and the National Information and Communications Technology Australia (NICTA) found that a significant feature of crowdsourcing - its openness of entry - makes it vulnerable to malicious behaviour.
They observed such behaviour in a number of recent popular crowdsourcing competitions, through analysis based on the 'Prisoner's Dilemma' scenario, which shows why two purely 'rational' individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interest.
Co-author Dr Victor Naroditskiy from the University of Southampton says: "Everyone from the 'crowd' can contribute to solving the task. This is exactly what makes crowdsourcing so powerful for solving tasks that are all but impossible for a closed group of individuals or an organisation.
"At the same time, the openness makes crowdsourcing solutions vulnerable to malicious behaviour of other interested parties. Malicious behaviour can take many forms, ranging from sabotaging problem progress to submitting misinformation. This comes to the front in crowdsourcing contests where a single winner takes the prize."
Surprisingly, making the attacks more expensive for the attacker is not an effective way of deterring them.
These findings, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, will be important for the design of crowdsourcing competitions, as well as for firms that consider using a crowdsourcing to solve a task.
Comment: From Adventures With Cassiopaea - Chapter 35:
Nash's theory inspired the most famous game of strategy of all social scientists called The Prisoner's Dilemma, which goes as follows: Imagine that the police arrest two suspects and interrogate them in separate rooms. Each one is given the choice of confessing, implicating the other, or keeping silent.
No matter what the other suspect does, each suspect's outcome - considered alone - would be better if he confessed. If one suspect confesses, the other ought to do the same and thereby avoid the harsher penalty for holding out. If one of them remains silent, the other one can confess, cut a deal for turning state's evidence, and the one who remains silent gets the whammy. Confession, or "cooperation," is the "dominant strategy." Since each is aware of the other's incentive to confess, it is "rational" for both to confess.
And here we come to the realization of the power of the psychopath and how Game Theory is being "used" against us. You see, the psychopath, having no conscience, does not have the ability to "imagine" the consequences of the noncooperation in terms of being able to "feel" it. Without this ability to imaginatively feel the consequences, he is virtually fearless, and can therefore direct his behavior according to his own fantasized outcome with no regard whatsoever to reality, remembered experiences, the imagined experiences of others, and so forth. That is to say, for the psychopath, rationality is determined by virtue of the idea that it is self-serving to the max. "Rationality" is the assumption that everyone else is looking out for number 1, and to hell with everybody else.
NEVER confessing, thus becomes the psychopath's "dominant strategy."
The reader will probably immediately see the dynamic of human relations involving a psychopathic personalities and a "normal" human. Psychopaths, having no conscience, always play their dominant strategy which is totally "rational" without the influence of emotions conjured up by imagination. They do not modify their behavior or choices based on emotion or consideration for the feelings or motivations of others. They will implicate the normal person in the "prisoner's dilemma," and will refuse to confess their own guilt, because they simply have no ability to perceive hurting another as morally reprehensible. This is the psychopath's "dominant strategy." They will never, in such a situation, consider cooperation.
Normal people, on the other hand, having conscience and emotion, will make choices based on imagination reinforced by emotion. In some cases, in the prisoner's dilemma, they will refuse to confess out of loyalty to the other, never realizing that the other might be a psychopath who has not only refused to confess his own guilt, has undertaken to make a deal for himself by implicating the other. Some people may even confess in order to "save" the other person from suffering pain, never realizing that they have been manipulated into this role by a psychopath who is all the while saying "Yes, he did it! I am innocent!" when, in fact, the truth is the exact opposite.
It's easy to see that in any interaction between a psychopath and a normal person with full range of emotions, the psychopath will always "win."