Oct. 2, 2008 A new algorithm developed by a computer scientist at the University of Southampton can be used to predict political power balances.
In a paper entitled: Manipulating the Quota in Weighted Voting Games published in the proceedings of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence conference, Dr Edith Elkind at the University's School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) describes how a mathematical model developed to describe voting in a parliament, can facilitate decision making among groups of computerised agents.
'Agents tend to form coalitions in much the same way as political parties,' she said. 'So I thought it would be interesting to look at what would happen to the balance of power if you change the number of votes needed to make a decision.'
In her paper, Dr Elkind, who is part of ECS’ Intelligence, Agents, Multimedia Group, illustrates that the power of a political party is very much dependent on whether bills are passed by a simple majority (50% of all votes) or a qualified majority (two thirds of all votes).
She believes that the same is true of autonomous agents, and that by applying the model to these scenarios, possible outcomes can be predicted.
'We can quantify the change in the balance of power caused by changing the voting threshold, like requiring a two-thirds majority to pass a bill rather than a 50 percent majority.'
A copy of Dr Elkind's paper can be accessed at: http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/16715/
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