Now Facebook will do this for you

San Francisco: If you are bad at bargaining, don't worry. A Facebook chatbot or dialogue agent which has the ability to engage in a meaningful conversation and negotiate with people may help you cut a better deal.

The bots were introduced by researchers at Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR).

"Similar to how people have differing goals, run into conflicts, and then negotiate to come to an agreed-upon compromise, the researchers have shown that it's possible for dialogue agents with differing goals to engage in start-to-finish negotiations with other bots or people while arriving at common decisions or outcomes," said Facebook in a blog post. 

Facebook trained the bots by showing them negotiation dialogues between real people and then having the bots imitate people's actions, a process called supervised learning.

In the training, the bots were shown a collection of items each having a particular point value and were instructed to divide them between themselves and another agent by negotiating a split of the items so that the bots maximised their points.

To go beyond simply trying to imitate people, the FAIR researchers also allowed the chatbot to achieve the goals of the negotiation. 

To train it to achieve its goals, the researchers had the model practice thousands of negotiations against itself, and used reinforcement learning to reward the bot when it achieved a good outcome.