Adversarial Schemes and Downplaying Your Own Performance

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There Is No Bathing in River Styx: Rule Manipulation, Performance Downplaying and Adversarial Schemes, by Dominic Martin

Adversarial scheme points to situations of rivalry like auctions, public tendering, sports competitions, elections or trials. Thomas Pogge suggested that these schemes have great advantage: they force agents to reveal their full performance. But they also incentivize agents to manipulate the rules. In other schemes with incentives, he also suggests, agents can easily downplay their performance, but won’t engage in rule manipulation to the same extent. In this paper, I will argue that adversarial schemes and other schemes with incentives advantages or disadvantages do not map from one to the other as Pogge suggests. Performance-downplaying also takes place in adversarial schemes, as well as in other schemes with incentives also lead to rule manipulation. I will also argue that there are genuine differences between these two types of schemes. Adversarial schemes have three unique advantages: first, they may be more effective in producing motivational improvements at a lower cost, second, they may lead to an automatic optimization of performances and, third, they may produce unique system benefits. In order to produce these advantages, we must design adversarial schemes properly and use them in the right situation.

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