AI Rebel Agents


  • Alexandra Coman Naval Research Laboratory
  • David W. Aha Naval Research Laboratory



The ability to say "no" in a variety of ways and contexts is an essential part of being socio-cognitively human. Through a variety of examples, we show that, despite ominous portrayals in science fiction, AI agents with human-inspired noncompliance abilities have many potential benefits. Rebel agents are intelligent agents that can oppose goals or plans assigned to them, or the general attitudes or behavior of other agents. They can serve purposes such as ethics, safety, and task execution correctness, and provide or support diverse points of view. We present a framework to help categorize and design rebel agents, discuss their social and ethical implications, and assess their potential benefits and the risks they may pose. In recognition of the fact that, in human psychology, non-compliance has profound socio-cognitive implications, we also explore socio-cognitive dimensions of AI rebellion: social awareness and counternarrative intelligence. This latter term refers to an agent's ability to produce and use alternative narratives that support, express, or justify rebellion, either sincerely or deceptively. We encourage further conversation about AI rebellion within the AI community and beyond, given the inherent interdisciplinarity of the topic.




How to Cite

Coman, A., & Aha, D. W. (2018). AI Rebel Agents. AI Magazine, 39(3), 16-26.