by Carissa Boynton Carissa Boynton No Comments

Negotiating online with Smartsettle ONE

The world’s most advanced negotiation support systems, capable of supporting any type of formal negotiation, are built in Canada by iCan Systems. iCan’s entry level product is Smartsettle ONE, which is an online collaboration system designed for simple negotiations that can be reduced to a single numerical issue. ONE aims to simplify the negotiation process and help parties settle disputes sooner. A complete process, supported by proprietary algorithms, guides users from the initial intake to a formal agreement.

Smartsettle ONE is currently in Canadian government sponsored trials, aimed at supporting the testing and evaluation of advanced technologies in a real-life setting. The project will be used to test Smartsettle ONE in real negotiations with First Nations members in the province of British Columbia. The Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council will be taking a leadership position in these trials, with their own Certified Smartsettle ONE Facilitators. The results of the trials will be used to improve the Smartsettle ONE system and processes and determine where it should be applied next. The feedback is designed to propel Smartsettle ONE into the marketplace. 

This project comes at a time when interest in Online Dispute Resolution has exploded due to COVID-19 precautions and restrictions. Court processes were already under strain, and are now forced to find alternative ways to resolve registered disputes. Traditional face-to-face mediations are no longer practical and people are looking for ways to solve their problems online. There’s no doubt that Smartsettle solutions will soon be adopted in resolution processes not only across Canada, but internationally as well. 

Further Details: Innovative Solutions Canada – Testing Stream (ISC-TS) (formerly Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP)), along with Indigenous Services Canada, are sponsoring this trial project using the Smartsettle ONE eNegotiation system to resolve disputes within the First Nations community. The testing period is expected to take eight months (Jul 2020 – Mar 2021). iCan Systems, the creators of Smartsettle, have partnered with the Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council (NmTC) to bring this project to life.

Visit for more information.

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Open Letter to Biden & Sanders


Congratulations! It really looks like one of you will become the next president of the United States. And while there’s no denying that the Biden camp has a significant lead at the moment, even compared to Trump, Sanders’ followers are still a significant force to be reckoned with. We support your shared goal of uniting your distinct followers in order to ensure the defeat of Trump in November. It will be more than tragic if we fail. 

Residual animosity is a risk that we cannot afford. iCan Systems Inc. can help you mitigate that risk. The solution is a powerful Biden / Sanders coalition that will create a significant barrier to divisive Republican attacks. Such a coalition can be achieved with our collaboration system named Smartsettle Infinity. Infinity can help create an optimized platform that everybody can immediately get behind with a unified approach that will vanquish any hope that Trump may have left.

Infinity implements sophisticated algorithms based on my own Cornell University dissertation research. Experts have endorsed these methods, some even preferring them to those of Nobel Laureate John Nash. Some of our experience in politics is noted in the appended references.

We propose this as a secret parallel process not affecting your current plans. Much of it will be able to be done remotely by communicating privately through Smartsettle’s intelligent neutral site. The outcome would come into play and into the open only once you both agree. If it fails to produce an agreement, neither of you will have lost anything because the system keeps your preferences completely confidential. Only the final agreement is revealed, if there is one. But we are confident of success.

We’re approaching you both simultaneously because we want you to be assured that we will be neutral in the process.

We look forward to your early positive response. Time is of the essence.


Ernest Thiessen, PEng, PhD
President and Founder
iCan Systems Inc. (creators of Smartsettle)

ps. You can reach me via the contact facility on this website.


Smartsettle Imagines Clinton Sanders Bloomberg Coalition“. Presented at the 2016 International Conference on Group Decision and Negotiation, held from June 20th to June 24th, at the College of Business and Economics, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, USA.

BREXIT 2.0 Negotiation Simulation with Smartsettle Infinity“. Peter Holt, Graham Ross, Ernest Thiessen & Diana Wallis. Published in the International Journal on Online Dispute Resolution (2017 (4) 2).

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Indigenous Green Economy Conf.

It was an honour to be guests of the Naut’sa mawt at the first Indigenous Green Economy Conference in Vancouver from March 13 to 14, 2019. Chief Patrick Mitchel recounted that his people have been self-sufficient for 8000 years in Canada and lamented that somehow we’ve now got only twelve years left.

David Suzuki challenged the audience with an urgent call to climate change action.
Peter Holt and Ernest Thiessen explained how algorithms can support collaborative negotiations that involve First Nations and promote a green economy.

Smartsettle’s founders have a long history of being involved in service negotiations, including a project in Nepal, where their work won a Blue Planet prize. This work inspired Dr. Thiessen’s PHD studies at Cornell University, where he was challenged to bridge the huge gap that exists between engineers and decision makers. This is the difference between the desired outcomes, and possible outcomes, dreaming vs. reality.

Dr. Thiessen’s work at Cornell became the basis for eight core algorithms, the foundation of which is called ‘Maximize the Minimum Gain’, and has been compared to the work of Nobel Laureate John Nash. Nearly three decades of research and development have produced practical negotiation systems, that can be accessed via the internet to support negotiations, from the simple, to the very complex.

Smartsettle systems produce superior outcomes in shorter times while protecting valuable relationships wherever decisions need to be negotiated. Applications range from eCommerce and dispute resolution to procurement and international peace treaties. This technology has the potential to relieve the burden on our court system by preventing disputes in the first place.

The Naut’sa mawt had already complimented us through their engagement with us through simulations and several live cases. An award from the Build in Canada Innovation Program provided the catalyst to grow the relationship with the Naut’sa mawt. Now in a joint venture with the Naut’sa mawt we anticipate engaging the First Nations community in exploring how Smartsettle ONE employs intelligent algorithms to promote collaborative decision making. This tool will initially be applied to simple negotiations such as workplace disputes or other conflicts that might otherwise end up in the courts. We look forward to this project evolving towards many other applications. We believe that we can make a difference in supporting negotiations and reaching decisions around issues such as reduction of provincial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, liquefied natural gas (LNG) use, carbon tax, health system priorities, wilderness preservation, labour agreement policies, education and literacy goals, affordable housing goals, and First Nations language preservation, just to name a few.

Our aim is to work together as one towards a greener world, one that is more intelligent, more collaborative, and more peaceful.

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Serving Algorithms

Over two decades of research and development has resulted in eight core algorithms that enable Smartsettle’s intelligent solutions. Smartsettle’s neutral site is in the business of serving these algorithms to multiple decision makers with conflicting objectives in order to help promote agreement.

The neutral site through a special API receives information from its users and responds by serving information that helps collaborative negotiators reach fair, efficient, and timely agreements. In short this is a “collaborative negotiation service”. 

The Smartsettle algorithms are implemented at the neutral site in order to support the Smartsettle Software As A Service (SAAS) model. They typically operate in this order:

  • Single Negotiating FrameworkSM (SNF)
    • establishes the context for the negotiations and any conditions that will apply once agreement has been reached
  • Comprehensive Preference AnalysisSM (CPA)
    • enables the system to  learn the underlying priorities and interests of the parties
  • Visual Blind BiddingSM (VBB)
    • enables the parties to submit both open and secret offers in a way that helps parties reach agreement quickly
  • Reward Early EffortSM (REE)
    • distributes the overlap in a way that discourages holding back and motivates collaboration
  • Automatic Deal-CloserSM (ADC)
    • resolves a small gap impasse in a more intelligent and fair way than the traditional split the difference
  • Fairness Enhancing NormalizationSM (FEN)
    • adjusts satisfaction scales in order to make fair comparisons among all the parties
  • Maximize the Minimum GainSM (MMG)
    • analyses comprehensive preferences to uncover and fairly distribute hidden value after a Baseline agreement has been reached
  • Expert Neutral Deal-CloserSM (END)
    • integrates neutral intervenors in a safe way, but only as a last resort in order to guarantee a collaborative outcome

The first task of negotiators is to build an SNF, which is like the final agreement except for blanks representing unresolved issues. CPA determines how parties become satisfied on each issue so that Smartsettle can generate intelligent suggestions. VBB allows parties to make secret bids on these suggestions. An overlap results in a deal. Behind the scenes, Smartsettle REE makes it counterproductive to hold back. Resulting increased settlement rates saves time and money in all types of negotiations and promotes access to justice in dispute resolution. If there’s a small gap then the ADC can close it instantly and without bias by rewarding early effort. FEN encourages parties to focus on what they want by making sure that no party is able to game the system. Normalization and improvement algorithms are only relevant to multivariate problems. By the time negotiators get this far there should be a deal. But in the rare case of no agreement in Final Session, parties can agree to the END, which will guarantee a collaborative outcome.

The Smartsettle service is used in simulated negotiations, games, and just starting to be used in real-life. In February, 2019, Smartsettle ONE made history as the first time AI was used for dispute resolution in a public court in England and Wales. According to the Law Gazette, after a certain dispute over a £2,000 unpaid bill for a personal counselling course had being making little progress over the previous three months. Smartsettle ONE was able help the parties find an satisfactory outcome in the space of an hour.

If you have a negotiation that could benefit from Smartsettle’s service you may wish to take the Resolution Cloud demonstration site for a test drive. Start by negotiating against our robot. Supplement that by practicing with a real opponent. When you are ready create a real case. If your case is simple, Smartsettle ONE may do the job. Smartsettle Infinity is at hand for the most complex high-value multivariate multilateral cases on earth. Facilitators are standing by ready to help.

If you already have your own application and would like to enhance it with Smartsettle powered intelligence this can be done quickly and painlessly with a white-label site that subscribes to our neutral site via an API. White-labeled sites can be configured to suit  a wide variety of needs. If you have a special need that is not represented by our configuration options then talk to us about a plugin.

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ONE Qualifies For BCIP Funding

iCan Systems Inc. is very pleased to announce that that its proposal to the Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP) was chosen from among hundreds to receive major funding for a technology pilot with a Canadian federal government department. Dr Ernest Thiessen, President and CEO sees the award as a vote of confidence, “We are delighted to receive our first pre-qualification within the BCIP program. This is a testament to our mission to advance collaborative decision making all over the world. We are now looking for testing departments within the Canadian government that are interested to take advantage of this funding. The best candidates are situations with a high-volume of low value disputes that can be reduced to a single monetary issue, such as insurance claim settlements, or small claims in general.” More…

About the Build in Canada Innovation Program

Administered by the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises (OSME) of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), the BCIP is a unique program that supports Canadian businesses by procuring and testing their late stage innovative products and services within the federal government before they are taken to market. BCIP helps Canadian companies of all sizes move their state-of-the-art goods and services from the laboratory to the marketplace. Through the BCIP, companies can sell their pre-qualified innovations to the federal government as their first reference sale. After testing a company’s innovation, federal departments provide feedback on the innovation’s performance in an operational setting. The program pays up to C$500,000 for non-military innovations and up to C$1,000,000 for military innovations. More about BCIP…

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Smartsettle ONE on Display

Smartsettle ONE is on display at Resolution Cloud as an entry level system for formal negotiations that can be easily reduced to a single issue between two parties. Insurance claim settlement negotiations or small claims about money are ideal candidates for ONE. This revolutionary cloud-based negotiation system utilizes advanced algorithms to gently and intelligently turn an adversarial process into a collaborative, successful experience.

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AI and the Science of the Deal

Matthew Hutson, writing for the journal Science in his recent article, “How artificial intelligence could negotiate better deals for humans” observed, “You may know the art of the deal, but there’s a science to it, too. And artificial intelligence is beginning to learn it. Computers that could negotiate for us could automate and optimize everything from traffic intersections to global treaties.”

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