Contents of the MEDIATOR.DOC file
MEDIATOR is a simple computer program for mediating
disputes between two parties or groups. It is written in BASIC
for the IBM PC, but it is written in simple generic BASIC to
allow easy conversion to other computers.
To run MEDIATOR, you must first copy the program onto a
system disk containing COMMAND.COM and BASIC.COM. Insert the
disk containing MEDIATOR in drive A and the system disk in
drive B. Then type "COPY A:*.* B:" (without the quotation
marks) and press the RETURN key. If you have a hard disk
drive, copy MEDIATOR to your hard disk instead. Place the
system disk containing MEDIATOR in the main drive. Then type
"BASIC MEDIATOR" and press RETURN. The program should run
When the program is run, it will first ask you for the
name of PARTY # 1 and PARTY # 2, the two parties in the
dispute. The names of the parties could be anything, such as
"TOM" and "SUE", "MANAGEMENT" and "LABOR", or "USA" and
"USSR". Once you have input the names of the parties, the
program will refer to the parties by name for the rest of the
MEDIATOR next asks how many issues are to be resolved.
Input any number. MEDIATOR then asks how many of these are of
the type that a numerical compromise can be achieved. These
are issues such as how much of a pay raise employees should
get, or how much money the defendant should pay the plaintiff
in a civil suit. In some cases, MEDIATOR may split the
difference (not necessarily evenly) in numerical issues to
achieve a fair settlement.
Next, MEDIATOR will ask for a description of each
non-numerical issue. Input a brief description of each issue
in the form of a question. Typical examples might be "WHO GETS
CUSTODY OF THE CHILD" in a divorce case, or "DO EMPLOYEES GET
A PAID VACATION ON THEIR BIRTHDAY" in a labor negotiation.
MEDIATOR will then ask for a similar description of each
numerical issue. In numerical questions, it is important that
the description be phrased so that the question can be
answered by a single number. For example, if you were dividing
up some money between Tom and Fred, you should not phrase the
question as "HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD TOM AND FRED EACH GET",
because this may involve a different number for each one.
Instead, the question should be phrased as "HOW MUCH MONEY
SHOULD TOM GET". The amount of money that Fred gets would then
be the remainder of the money.
Next, MEDIATOR will ask for the position of the first
party on each issue. For example, in a management-labor
dispute, it might ask
DESCRIBE YOUR POSITION ON ISSUE OF
"DO EMPLOYEES GET A PAID VACATION ON THEIR BIRTHDAYS"
Management would probably input "NO". MEDIATOR might then ask
ON THE ISSUE OF "HOW BIG A PAY RAISE DO THE EMPLOYEES GET"
WHAT IS YOUR DESIRED VALUE?
Management would probably answer "0", or even a negative
number to indicate a pay cut.
MEDIATOR would then ask the same questions for the second
Once both sides have input their positions on each issue,
MEDIATOR will say
IT IS NOW TIME FOR (name of first party) TO RATE THE
IMPORTANCE OF ISSUES.
It will then provide a list of the issues and the positions of
the two sides on each issue. It will also ask if you want a
hard copy of this list. This will allow you to look over the
issues at your leisure. If you respond by pressing the "Y" key
and the RETURN key, a list will be output by your printer.
MEDIATOR will then ask which of the issues is most
important to the first party. The representative of the first
party should input the number of the most important issue from
the list. The issue selected is given a value of 10 on a scale
of 1 to 10. MEDIATOR then asks party number 1 to rate each of
the remaining issues in importance from 1 to 10, as compared
to the importance of the issue chosen as most important. For
example, if a certain issue is half as important to party # 1
as the most important issue, that issue should be given a
rating of 5. An issue that is just as important as the main
issue can be given a rating of 10, and an issue of little
importance can be given a rating of 1. The user should
understand that MEDIATOR evaluates how important each issue is
to a party in relation to the importance of the other issues
for that party. Therefore, it does does not improve the
bargaining position of someone to say that all issues rate a
10. Giving a particular issue a high rating automatically
reduces the importance rating of the other issues for that
party. Anyone who lies and says that all issues rate a 10 is
decreasing their chances of getting what is really important
After the first party has input the importance rating of
each issue, the process will be repeated for the second party.
It is suggested that each party input their importance ratings
in secret, to prevent the second party from trying to hedge
their answers based on the answers of the first party.
Once the second party has input their importance ratings,
MEDIATOR will output its decision on each issue. It will also
output a satisfaction index for each party. This index
indicates how much of what it wanted each party got, weighted
by how important each issue is rated by that party. In most
cases, the satisfaction index of both parties will be over 50%.
Basic Principles of MEDIATOR
MEDIATOR evaluates how important each issue is to each
party, and gives each party what is most important to that
party. This tends to result in a satisfaction index of over
50% for both parties, a desirable WIN-WIN situation.
If a particular non-numerical issue is of equal
importance to both sides, a decision is made which will tend
to balance the satisfaction indexes of the two parties. For
example, if the indexes stand at 45% for party A and 60% for
party B, and the remaining non-numerical issue is of equal
importance to both parties, the decision is made in favor of
party A. If a numerical issue is of equal value to both sides,
the number is distributed to balance the satisfaction indexes.
Advantages of MEDIATOR
The first advantage of MEDIATOR is that it forces the two
sides to sit down and evaluate how important each issue really
is to them. It actually forces them to assign a numerical
value to each issue relative to each other issue, so they can
improve their chances of getting what they really want. This
tends to cut through all the bluster and posturing involved
when people claim that issues are nonnegotiable.
The second advantage of MEDIATOR is that it provides a
completely objective mediator. No one can accuse a computer of
having any biases in the disagreement. The program makes its
decision based entirely on what each side wants and how badly
they want it, not on some external preconception of what is
the "right" decision.
Disadvantages of MEDIATOR
MEDIATOR is not capable of generating any creative new
solutions to the problem, the way a human mediator might. It
merely takes the positions of the two sides and tries to find
the most equitable way to divide its decisions between the two
Another problem is that MEDIATOR does not really
understand the issues, and therefore its decisions may not
always be reasonable or practical. One side (or both) could
input a totally unreasonable position on some issues to force
the other side to devote all its efforts to preventing that
side from getting its way on that issue. For example, in a
management-labor dispute, labor could input that it wants a
raise of $1,000,000 a week, to force management to give all
its importance points to that issue to insure that labor does
not win that point. It is therefore necessary that a human
mediator be present to oversee the process, to make certain
that both sides are inputting "good faith" positions on each
In view of these problems, and the extreme simplicity of
this program, MEDIATOR should be viewed as a potential tool in
a mediation process and an interesting demonstration of
computer aided negotiation, not as something that is about to
replace human mediators. It could also be an interesting
starting point for a more advanced system, perhaps something
that could be combined with an expert system program.
Conversion to Other Computers
Althought this program is written in generic BASIC, a few
keywords may need to be changed for some computers. The
following is a list of these words:
CLS - This clears the screen and places the cursor in the
upper left corner. Some computers use HOME or PRINT CHR$(12);
to accomplish this.
LINE INPUT - This is the same as INPUT except that it allows a
comma to be input within a string. You can replace LINE INPUT
with INPUT if your computer does not allow LINE INPUT. If it
is necessary to input a string containing a comma as an answer
to one of the computers questions, you must then enclose the
entire answer in quotation marks.
RND - This generates a random number from 0 to 1. Some
computers use RND(0), RND(-1), or RND(1) to accomplish this.
Check your manual for the function to generate a constantly
changing number from 0 to 1.
Distributing This Program
This program is now in the public domain. Feel free to
copy it and distribute it to your friends and associates.
Comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome, and should
be addressed to:
4649 Van Kleeck Drive
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169
Any groups interested in developing other programs for
computer aided negotiation are welcome to contact me for
advice or participation.