* Abstract

Opinion dynamics is nowadays a very common field of research. In this article we formulate and then study a novel, namely strategic perspective on such dynamics: There are the usual 'normal' agents that update their opinions, for instance according the well-known bounded confidence mechanism. But, additionally, there is at least one strategic agent. That agent uses opinions as freely selectable strategies to get control on the dynamics: The strategic agent of our benchmark problem tries, during a campaign of a certain length, to influence the ongoing dynamics among normal agents with strategically placed opinions (one per period) in such a way, that, by the end of the campaign, as much as possible normals end up with opinions in a certain interval of the opinion space. Structurally, such a problem is an optimal control problem. That type of problem is ubiquitous. Resorting to advanced and partly non-standard methods for computing optimal controls, we solve some instances of the campaign problem. But even for a very small number of normal agents, just one strategic agent, and a ten-period campaign length, the problem turns out to be extremely difficult. Explicitly we discuss moral and political concerns that immediately arise, if someone starts to analyze the possibilities of an optimal opinion control.

Opinion Dynamics, Optimal Opinion Control, Bounded Confidence, Mixed Integer Linear Programming, Heuristics

Acrobat logoDue to complex mathematical notations, this article is only available in Portable Document Format (PDF) format. To read the article you will need a copy of the Adobe Acrobat reader, available free.

The article is here