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Modeling Regret

March 5, 2008

Computer models simulate human behavior better when they learn to regret.


Teaching computers to regret. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

[On the Waterfront audio clip: "I coulda been a contenda…"]
Computer programs can’t really regret the past, but researchers in Italy are training them to behave as if they do. Economists Massimo Warglien of the University of Venice and Davide Marchiori of the University of Trento are working with well-established computer models of decision-making and competition. But they added an extra ingredient: the ability to recognize lost opportunities in hindsight.

MASSIMO WARGLIEN (University of Venice, Italy):
The amount of regret is really how much you have missed, // by not doing what would have been, in retrospect, the right thing to do.

And the greater the regret, the greater the impact it had on the computer’s future decisions. Warglien says that with this adjustment, the models behaved much more like actual humans. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.