Assistant Professor of Human-Computer Interaction Institute in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University
Autonomous-Agent Interventions in Human Network Cooperation and Coordination
(Dissertation Committee: Nicholas Christakis (chair); Emily Erikson; Forrest Crawford; Andrew Papachristos)
The committee recognizes Hirokazu Shirado’s distinguished thesis “Autonomous-Agent Interventions in Human Network Cooperation and Coordination” with the department’s 2020 Marvin B. Sussman Dissertation Prize. This dissertation is a masterful combination of social scientific theory and cutting-edge advances in network science that takes on the central sociological problem of cooperation in society. It makes core contributions in a number of areas in exploring how theories of cooperation and collective action can be formalized and tested empirically in controlled experimental settings.
Conceptually, the paper takes on foundational ideas in human relationships no less central to humanity than cooperation and coordination. The background of the dissertation synthesizes a dizzying amount of theoretical work in these areas spanning history, sociology, political science, and economics. What is more impressive is the way in which Shirado uses cutting edge methods including network experiments and robots to test his theories and advance our scientific understanding of human cooperation. One set of findings is the first to document that the cooperativity of human groups may actually be increased, and not merely preserved, by some of the strategies that Shirado proposes and then tests empirically. This work paves new ground in considering the effect of automated interventions and in finding an empirical way to study an abstract and large conceptual problem usually addressed only through computation models.