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Research Shows Artificial Intelligence Can Play a Role in Mediation

Tuesday, April, 14, 2020

Recent research from Cornell University demonstrates how artificial intelligence (AI) can play a role in mediating negotiations.  Researchers see this as especially good news at this time when the COVID-19 outbreak prevents in-person mediation and requires social distances in most all situations. 


The study, titled “AI as a Moral Crumple Zone: The Effects of Mediation AI Communication on Attribution and Trust,” showed people trusted AI systems more than the actual people during difficult conversations.  They described the AI systems as “smart.” It was published in the journal of Computers in Human Behavior.


According to Jess Hohenstein, the paper’s first author, “We find that when things go wrong, people take the responsibility that would otherwise have been designated to their human partner and designate some of that to the artificial intelligence system.  This introduces the potential to take AI and use it as a mediator in our conversations. ”


The study showed that AI systems can detect when things are going bad in a conversation.  The system's algorithm analyzed language and noted the moment when things took a term.  It was then able to suggest conflict-resolution strategies based on what it had gleaned from the information in the conversation. 


Malte Jung, a co-author of the study, said “Communication is so fundamental to how we form perceptions of each other, how we form and maintain relationships, or how we can accomplish anything working together.  This study falls within the broader agenda of understanding how these new AI systems mess with our capacity to interact,” Jung continued.  “We often think about how the design of systems affects how we interact with them, but fewer studies focus on the question of how the technologies we develop affect how people interact with each other.”