On Blame Attribution for Accountable Multi-Agent Sequential Decision Making

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Stelios Triantafyllou, Adish Singla, Goran Radanovic


Blame attribution is one of the key aspects of accountable decision making, as it provides means to quantify the responsibility of an agent for a decision making outcome. In this paper, we study blame attribution in the context of cooperative multi-agent sequential decision making. As a particular setting of interest, we focus on cooperative decision making formalized by Multi-Agent Markov Decision Processes (MMDPs), and we analyze different blame attribution methods derived from or inspired by existing concepts in cooperative game theory. We formalize desirable properties of blame attribution in the setting of interest, and we analyze the relationship between these properties and the studied blame attribution methods. Interestingly, we show that some of the well known blame attribution methods, such as Shapley value, are not performance-incentivizing, while others, such as Banzhaf index, may over-blame agents. To mitigate these value misalignment and fairness issues, we introduce a novel blame attribution method, unique in the set of properties it satisfies, which trade-offs explanatory power (by under-blaming agents) for the aforementioned properties. We further show how to account for uncertainty about agents' decision making policies, and we experimentally: a) validate the qualitative properties of the studied blame attribution methods, and b) analyze their robustness to uncertainty.