Scientific and technological objectives
The ability of networked societies of small artefacts to adapt is composed of two almost orthogonal dimensions, each with its own issues and objectives:
  • The ability for internal continual self-organizational of the network.
    • We will characterize the network awareness of components and adaptability to the needs and to changes in the environment and in the operating conditions.
    • We will investigate the necessary technical requirements for the network to be always able to adapt (i.e. be ready).
    • We will examine how fast it responds (in real time) to track variations in the operation of the network.
    • We will investigate the influence on the performance of the network as the individual entities are adapting (how long does it take to reach a "steady state").
  • The ability to adapt to environmental changes in a dynamic way. In particular, for systems deployed to achieve particular goals, this adaptability should also address the needs, constraints, and commands of its users.
    • We will investigate the ability to adapt in cases of alerts.
    • We will provide rules to prioritize the environmental changes (characterization of changes as major/critical where adaptation is needed, provide some thresholds).
Of course, an adaptive society needs to be composed of individual artefacts that have certain capabilities. We do not plan to consider the capability of each individual artefact to alter and adapt its own hardware by reassembling. Instead, our focus is on their capability of soft adaption, which affects their position and role in their society and their interaction with the other individuals and the environment. Such capability is to some extent technologically feasible for individual artefacts even today; what we really lack is the knowledge on how to combine the artefacts in useful adaptive nets.

To achieve the two main research goals described above, we need to solve several scientific and technological problems

The internal self-organization requires to address at least two problems: (a) how to continually adapt the communication infrastructure and (b) how to achieve "self-stability", which allows effective recovery from transient unexpected faults. We believe that the second problem is of central importance because self-stabilization is an indispensable property of the systems under examination. The adaptation to the environment and to the needs of users requires to address the following problems: (a) how to achieve distributed cooperation, (b) how the system "tribes" discover and track resources, (c) how the net reacts to imposed, uncontrolled dynamicity (such as externally imposed movements of the artefacts because, e.g., they follow ocean currents or are attached to humans), and (d) the extremely important objective of how trust develops or emerges in the whole net or its parts.

Both kinds of adaptational ability require to be able to cope, on one hand, with all kinds of threats, faults, and attacks, and on the other hand, to be able to establish and maintain trust to the humans and to the other parts of the net. Adaptive security and trust in dynamic settings are tasks we need to address in both lines of objectives of our research.

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