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Governance, Justice and Values in Self-Organising Socio-Technical Communities

  • Speaker: Professor Jeremy Pitt, Imperial College London
  • Date: Wednesday, 2 March 2016 from 17:00 to 18:00
  • Location: Room 151

Many open computing systems -- for example grid or cloud computing, sensor or vehicular networks, and virtual organisations -- face a similar problem: how to collectivise resources, and distribute them fairly, in the absence of a centralized component. One approach is to define a set of conventional, mutually-agreed and mutable rules -- i.e., a self-organising rule-oriented system in which rules are explicit, 'first class' entities, typically characterised by an institution. In this talk, firstly we first present a formal model of Ostrom's institutional design principles, and a formal model of Rescher's theory of distributive justice, as a basis for a fair and sustainable allocation of common-pool resources. This provides the foundations for algorithmic self-governance and computational justice in ‘technical’ systems. Secondly, we consider the implications of injecting these ideas back into socio-technical systems, specifically those addressing collective action problems such as resource management (power and water), knowledge commons or workplace incivility. Finally, we argue for the importance of communities in resolving such problems, and in particular identifying, representing and reasoning with the values underlying the mutualism that makes these communities successful.


Jeremy Pitt is Professor of Intelligent and Self-Organising Systems in the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering at Imperial College London, where he is also Deputy Head of the Intelligent Systems & Networks Group. His research interests focus on developing formal models of social processes using computational logic, and their application to self-organising and multi-agent systems, for example in agent societies, agent communication languages, and electronic institutions. He also has a strong interest in the social impact of technology, and has edited two recent books in this direction, This Pervasive Day (IC Press, 2012) and The Computer After Me (IC Press, 2014). He has been an investigator on more than 30 national and European research projects and has published more than 150 articles in journals and conferences. He is a Senior Member of the ACM, a Fellow of the BCS, and a Fellow of the IET; he is also an Associate Editor of ACM Transactions on Autonomous and Adaptive Systems and an Associate Editor of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.