chapter  4
21 Pages

Autonomy, delegation, and responsibility: agents in autonomic computing environments

ByROGER BROWNSWORD

Suppose that our everyday environments were to be technologically enabled so that they became smarter, more intelligent, more anticipatory, and more responsive to our needs? Imagine ‘a world of convergence, where heterogeneous devices are able to communicate seamlessly across today’s disparate networks, a world of machine learning and intelligent software, where computers monitor our activities, routines and behaviours to predict what we will do or want next’ (Wright et al. 2008: 1).2 This is a world that gives rise to a host of concerns, to concerns about privacy, security, trust, and reliability, and the like. It is also a world in whichas Jos de Mul and Bibi van den Berg (2011) have vividly highlighted-there are concerns about whether there is a future for agents, particularly whether there is any room for agent autonomy and any role for agent responsibility.