Agree to Disagree: Subjective Fairness in Privacy-Restricted Decentralised Conflict Resolution

March 3rd, 2022

Fairness is commonly seen as a property of the global outcome of a system and assumes centralisation and complete knowledge. However, in real decentralised applications, agents only have partial observation capabilities. Under limited information, agents rely on communication to divulge some of their private (and unobservable) information to others. When an agent deliberates to resolve conflicts, limited knowledge may cause its perspective of a correct outcome to differ from the actual outcome of the conflict resolution. This is subjective unfairness. As human systems and societies are organised by rules and norms, hybrid human-agent and multi-agent environments of the future will require agents to resolve conflicts in a decentralised and rule-aware way. Prior work achieves such decentralised, rule-aware conflict resolution through cultures: explainable architectures that embed human regulations and norms via argumentation frameworks with verification mechanisms. However, this prior work requires agents to have full state knowledge of each other, whereas many distributed applications in practice admit partial observation capabilities, which may require agents to communicate and carefully opt to release information if privacy constraints apply. To enable decentralised, fairness-aware conflict resolution under privacy constraints, we have two contributions: 1) a novel interaction approach and 2) a formalism of the relationship between privacy and fairness. Our proposed interaction approach is an architecture for privacy-aware explainable conflict resolution where agents engage in a dialogue of hypotheses and facts. To measure the privacy-fairness relationship, we define subjective and objective fairness on both the local and global scope and formalise the impact of partial observability due to privacy in these different notions of fairness. We first study our proposed architecture and the privacy-fairness relationship in the abstract, testing different argumentation strategies on a large number of randomised cultures. We empirically demonstrate the trade-off between privacy, objective fairness, and subjective fairness and show that better strategies can mitigate the effects of privacy in distributed systems. In addition to this analysis across a broad set of randomised abstract cultures, we analyse a case study for a specific scenario: we instantiate our architecture in a multi-agent simulation of prioritised rule-aware collision avoidance with limited information disclosure.