We regulate to coordinate: Human and machine joint activity

Dr. Paul Feltovich

Among the most important social activities is "joint activity," groups of people trying to accomplish something together. A defining characteristic of joint activity is interdependence: what party A does depends on what party B does, and vice versa. As soon as there is interdependence, there is need for coordination in time and/or space, and, hence, for a degree of order and predictability. Some of the requirements for effective joint activity are discussed, as well as various means that humans (and even some animals) have developed for achieving these. The latter include ubiquitous and diverse systems of regulation. These considerations will be extended, via the mechanism of KAoS policy services, to joint activity in teams of software agents and, especially, to mixed work groups of humans and agents. What seem to be some of the major bottlenecks, and hence fruitful areas for research, to improving human-machine joint activity will be presented.