Human societies have created institutions that set and enforce laws, monitor and respond to emergencies, prevent and recover from disasters, etc. At the IIIA we got inspiration from this human institutions for the realisation of open multi-agent systems founded on an electronic version of them: "electronic institutions". Whose core notions include:

  • Agents and Roles: agents are the players in an electronic institution, interacting by the exchange of illocutions, whereas roles are defined as standardised patterns of behaviour.
  • Dialogic framework: the context or framework of interaction amongst agents of an institution, such as the objects of the world and the language employed for communicating.
  • Scene: interactions between agents are articulated through agent group meetings, which we call scenes, with a well-defined communication protocol.
  • Performative structure: scenes can be connected, composing a network defining the flow of agents within an institution.
  • Normative Rules: agent actions in the context of an institution may have consequences that either limit or enlarge its subsequent acting possibilities. Such consequences will impose obligations to the agents and affect their possible paths within the performative structure.

We also work on using 3D Virtual Worlds to facilitate human participation in Electronic Institutions. 3D virtual worlds are computational immersive environments that emulate real world using 3-dimensional visualisation. Humans participate in those environments represented as graphical embodied characters (avatars) and operate by using simple and intuitive control facilities. The immersive environment provides many possibilities for representing the system state, and the regulations defined by the institution. Hence, we are exploring how to generate a representation of the institution in the virtual world that is attractive and effective to support human participation. The aim is to build hybrid multi-agent systems, whose participants can be both humans and software agents, whose interactions are regulated by the institutional rules

More information on electronic institutions can be found here.