Dig in your heels

03 Nov 2022

The Naming Game is a computer model where multiple robots (agents) invent words and share them with others, who either use the word or reject it and invent their own. Watching robots invent their own language is fascinating stuff and the model can be extended for further experimentation, such as…

What happens if some agents refuse to use another agent’s word? Simulations show the majority will eventually adopt the stubborn minority’s version of the truth.1 If the number of stubborn bots (also known as committed agents) is equal to or greater than 10% then the time to convert the majority to the minority opinion drops radically.

We have demonstrated here the existence of a tipping point at which the initial majority opinion of a network switches quickly to that of a consistent and inflexible minority.1

“Social consensus through the influence of committed minorities,” Physical Review E, 2011.

While a small number of committed agents can cause an exponentially fast shift in opinion, adding more committed agents to this number doesn’t help! Also committed agents with better connections (more friends and acquaintances) outperform agents chosen at random.2

Fanatic: someone who won’t change their mind and won’t change the subject.

Who funded this research?

“This work was supported in part by the Army Research Laboratory under Cooperative Agreement Number W911NF-09-2-0053, by the Army Research Office grant W911NF-09-1-0254 and by the Office of Naval Research Grant No. N00014-09-1-0607.” 1

So the US military funds experiments in changing majority opinion. Hmmm…

  1. Xie et al. Social consensus through the influence of committed minorities. Physical Review E, 2011. 

  2. Q. Lu, G. Korniss, and B.K. Szymanski. The Naming Game in Social Networks: Community Formation and Consensus Engineering. Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination 4, 2009.