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Negotiation is a fundamental business skill—one that is inextricably bound up with human emotion and psychology as much as economic calculus. Perhaps one day, robot lawyers will go forth to negotiate on our behalf. But, in the meantime, at least one negotiation expert thinks A.I. can be used today to improve humans’ negotiation tactics.

Jared Curhan is a professor at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Business who specializes in negotiation. His particular focus is on what researchers call “subjective value.” That’s a fancy term for how people feel about the outcome of a negotiation: do they think they got a fair deal or got screwed?

Negotiation theorists once dismissed subjective value as irrelevant. But Curhan and others have shown that it is a good predictor of economic payoffs—especially when parties will have to negotiate with one another more than once over the course of a relationship.

Like most negotiation trainers, Curhan teaches students through role-playing exercises. For the past several years, he’s been using software that can run these games and provide immediate feedback to students on their performance in the form of computer-generated graphs and charts showing how well they’ve done in both economic and subjective terms. Now he’s adding A.I. to that mix.

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