On the Profitability of Incompetence

  • Eugen Staab
  • Martin Caminada
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6532)


The exchange of information is in many multi-agent systems the essential form of interaction. For this reason, it is crucial to keep agents from providing unreliable information. However, agents that provide information have to balance between being highly competent, in order to achieve a good reputation as information provider, and staying incompetent, in order to minimize the costs of information acquisition. In this paper, we use a multi-agent simulation to identify conditions under which it is profitable for agents either to make an investment to become competent, or to economize and stay incompetent. We focus on the case where the quality of the acquired information cannot objectively be assessed in any immediate way and where hence the information end users have to rely on secondary methods for assessing the quality of the information itself, as well as the trustworthiness of those who provide it.


Social Epistemology Dishonesty Formal Argumentation Reputation Systems Incentive Compatibility 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eugen Staab
    • 1
  • Martin Caminada
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Science, Technology and CommunicationUniversity of LuxembourgLuxembourg

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