Thursday Nov 18th — Nicole Immorlica from Microsoft Research

The next Foundations of Data Science virtual talk will take place on Thursday, Nov 18th at 10:00 AM Pacific Time (13:00 Eastern Time, 19:00 Central European Time, 18:00 UTC). Nicole Immorlica from Microsoft Research will speak about “Communicating with Anecdotes”.

Please register here to join the virtual talk.

Abstract: Classic models of communication in economics typically assume agents can communicate any message.  However, many important communications, such as those in newspapers or politicians’ speeches, use data to convey information.  In this talk, we explore how the reliance on data impacts communication.  In our model, there are two Bayesian agents (a sender and a receiver) who wish to communicate. The receiver must take an action whose payoff depends on their personal preferences and an unknown state of the world. The sender has access to a collection of data points correlated with the state of the world and can send exactly one of these to the receiver in order to influence her choice of action. Importantly, the sender’s personal preferences may differ from the receiver’s, which affects the sender’s strategic choice of what to send. We show that in a Nash equilibrium even a small difference in preferences can lead to a significant bias in the communicated datum. This can significantly reduce informativeness of the communication, leading to substantial utility loss for both sides. One implication is informational homophily: a receiver can rationally prefer to obtain data from a poorly-informed sender with aligned preferences, rather than a knowledgeable expert whose preferences may differ from her own.  

Joint work with Nika Haghtalab, Brendan Lucier, Markus Mobius and Divya Mohan.

The series is supported by the NSF HDR TRIPODS Grant 1934846.

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