Project Overview

Detecting and promoting useful emergent norms within a system requires the following steps:
  1. Detect emergent norms.
  2. Assess the value of the norm to the system.
  3. If deemed to be useful - promote the adoption of the norm within the system.
In EELS we will examine and develop mechanisms for each of these steps.

Detecting emergent norms
Detecting emergent behaviour is not straightforward in large complex systems since the patterns of behaviour may be spatially or temporally extended.  Further, one must distinguish true norm emergence from transient individual behaviour (for example, that arising purely from personal preferences or the physical constraints of the system). We will develop a model of emergent behaviour in order to allow agents to identify and reason about emerging norms.

Assessing value
Whether a norm is valuable, or not, obviously depends upon the goals of the system, but these goals may be diverse.  Because norms constrain behaviour, a specific norm may make attaining one goal easier while obstructing others.  Within a society, there may be factions that have different preferences, and so coming to an agreement about the value of norms may be challenging.  We will examine mechanisms for facilitating agreement, such as voting, auctions and argumentation.

Adopting useful norms
Once a useful norm has been detected, the agents must be encouraged to adopt and commit to the norm. This allows them to incorporate the norm into their reasoning and expectations, and reap the benefits.  We will develop protocols for mutual norm commitment and adoption, and examine mechanisms for encouraging the propagation of norms throughout the system.