Distributive Justice and Self-Organised Resource Allocation in Open Systems
Speaker: Dr. Jeremy Pitt, Imperial College London
Date: 24 June 2014 Time: 15:00 - 17:00
Location: Alkiviades C. Payatakes" Seminar Room, FORTH, Heraklion, Crete
Host: Theodoros Patkos, George Flouris


Open computing systems, from sensor networks to Smart-Grids, face the same challenge: a set of autonomous, heterogenous agents, needing to collectivise and distribute resources without a centralised decision-making authority. One possible solution is to collectively agree a set of rules for resource provision and appropriation, but there remains the concern that the outcomes of the rules do not distribute the resources 'fairly'.

In this talk, we present how a formal representation of Nicholas Rescher's theory of distributive justice can be embedded in the context of a logical axiomatisation (in the Event Calculus) of Elinor Ostrom's institutional design principles for sustainable resource management. This enables the autonomous computing components of an open system (ie, agents) to self-organise a distribution of resources (in the context of an economy of scarcity) such that it was fair over time. That is, while at any one time-point the resource allocation might be very unfair (using a well-known and often-used fairness metric, the Gini index), a group could nonetheless achieve allocations that were very fair over a series of time-points.

We conclude the talk with a discussion of several directions for further research stemming from this work, especially as it can be applied to socio-technical systems like smart grids: computational justice, collective awareness, algorithmic self-governance, design contractualism and social capital.


Jeremy Pitt is Reader in Intelligent 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 multi-agent systems, for example in agent societies, agent communication languages, and self-organising electronic institutions. He also has an strong interest in the social impact of technology, and has edited two recent books, 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.

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