Problem Solving Groups

But in an online game designed to test group decision-making, adding computer-controlled players that sometimes behave randomly more than halved the time it took to solve the problem, according to the new study.

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Each participant was assigned at random to one of 20 locations, or "nodes," in an interconnected network.

Players can select from three colors and the goal is for every node to have a different color from the neighbors they are connected to.

He said it is a very important first step toward a scientific understanding of how similar processes impact human behavior, particularly in the context of interactions between humans and machines."Already we are making our decisions in the context of algorithms and that's only going to expand as technology advances," he told Live Science.

"We have to be prepared for that and understand these types of processes.

To start, self-driving cars will soon share roads with human drivers, and more people may soon find themselves working alongside robots or with "smart" software.

In the study, published online today (May 17) in the journal Nature, the researchers describe how they recruited 4,000 human workers from Amazon's Mechanical Turk online crowdsourcing platform to play an online game.

What the researchers found was that games in which bots exhibiting 10 percent noise were placed in the center of the network were typically solved 55.6 percent times faster than sessions involving just humans."[The bots] got the humans to change how they interacted with other humans," Christakis said.

"They created these kinds of positive ripple effects to more distant parts of the network.

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