Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Volume 545 Issue 7654, 18 May 2017

A group’s collective action towards a common goal, even if everyone’s interests are aligned, faces a ‘coordination’ problem: an individual’s attempts to reach a solution that is optimal for him or her locally may not be optimal for the group as a whole. In this issue, Nicholas Christakis and Hirokazu Shirado demonstrate a potential solution to this problem in the shape of autonomous software (artificial intelligence) agents, or ‘bots’. They introduced simple bots into small networks of humans engaged in solving a standard colour coordination game — in which the collective goal is for every node to have a colour different from all of its neighbour nodes — thus creating a ‘heterogeneous system’ of humans and bots. They found that using the bots to introduce noise into the decision-making process could improve the overall performance of the group. The noisy bots worked best when they were placed centrally in the network and they displayed moderate (10%) randomness. Under these conditions, the bots not only improved human–bot interactions but also human–human interactions at distant nodes, thereby helping humans to help themselves. Cover image: Cavan Huang

Editorial

World View

Seven Days

News

News Feature

Comment

  • Comment |

    Independent professionals advance science in ways faculty-run labs cannot, and such positions keep talented people in research, argues Steven Hyman.

    • Steven Hyman

Books & Arts

Correspondence

Correction

Obituary

  • Obituary |

    Nobel prizewinner who trapped electrons and demonstrated quantum jumps.

    • Peter Toschek

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    It emerges that tumour cells can give rise to non-dividing cells that form part of the supporting microenvironment known as the niche. These niche cells secrete proteins that drive tumour growth and progression. See Letters p.355 & p.360

    • Meritxell Huch
    • Emma L. Rawlins
  • News & Views |

    Systems of quantum objects can be characterized by the correlations between the objects. A technique that precisely measures even the most delicate of these correlations allows models of quantum systems to be tested. See Letter p.323

    • Ian B. Spielman
  • News & Views |

    Ageing and many diseases are partly driven by the accumulation of damaged cells that no longer divide. It emerges that these senescent cells can be eradicated in mice using a drug that interferes with the activity of the protein FOXO4.

    • Manuel Serrano
  • News & Views |

    A classic paper in 1967 reported key advances in climate modelling that enabled a convincing quantification of the global-warming effects of carbon dioxide — laying foundations for the models that underpin climate research today.

    • Piers Forster
  • News & Views |

    The chances of solving a problem that involves coordination between people are increased by introducing robotic players that sometimes make mistakes. This finding has implications for real-world coordination problems. See Letter p.370

    • Simon Gächter

Article

Letter

Feature

Column

  • Column |

    Mutual respect, guidance and support are key to a fruitful relationship with trainees, says W. Larry Kenney.

    • W. Larry Kenney

    Collection:

Futures

  • Futures |

    Out for a duck.

    • Krystal Claxton

Outlook

Spotlight

Supplement

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing

Search

Quick links