Revision wars on Wikipedia amongst human editors is an all-too-common occurrence, but new research from the UK shows that similar online battles are being waged between the site’s software robots.
As a new study published in PLOS ONE reveals, Wikipedia’s bots don’t always get along, frequently undoing each other’s edits. These online algorithms, each equipped with their own instructions and goals, engage in sterile “fights” over content that can persist for years. The new research shows how relatively “dumb” bots can produce complex interactions and behaviors, and how developers need to stay on top of their digital creations. This has implications not just for the quality of Wikipedia pages, but for the development of AI in general—particularly any autonomous agents set loose on the web.