Value-Driven Reasoning for Sustainability in an Uncertain World


Patrick Beautement


This talk aims to show the benefits which could be realised from incorporating the notion of 'value' into 'agent' models. The talk takes as its starting point the realities of acting in the world - that throughout commerce and government and in everyday life we are inevitably connected through complex networks of relationships and interactions at different levels of abstraction, always mediated by the environment with which we co-evolve.

For organisations and society at large, the key capability to have is agility - which is needed so that we are able to adapt to the inevitable uncertainties of the world without dislocation. The need for agility is as essential in cyberspace as it is in the real world that we inhabit. To achieve true agility, social enterprises and cyberspace must be capable of supporting continuous dynamic adjustment where many effects and behaviours will be manifested as emergent phenomena.

Often, though, we see the world in terms of process, bounded 'systems', efficiency and 'the bottom line' and our processes and information systems only see the world in terms of facts and 'optimal' behaviour. As a result, our tools and systems are less effective than they could be. In a sustainable, interconnected world, we need instead to look at a broader specturm which involves the essential interplay between at least five types of capital: natural, human, social, manufactured and financial. These capitals can be thought of in terms of 'value sets'.

So, the question then is, how do we represent value in cyberspace and the (potentially conflicting) sets of values of different enterprises such that cyberspace (and the software entities inside it and the hybrid entities at its margins) can 'reason' in a useful manner to augment human endeavours. This talk will discuss these issues and suggest some approaches, mechanisms and models for further discussion and debate.


Patrick Beautement is a Senior Technical Consultant - an innovator involved with the development of novel techniques for the augmentation of human capabilities in the military and commercial environments.  He has provided pragmatic advice these topics to the DoD, MoD, other government departments and major international companies.  He has worked for QinetiQ and DERA and was a senior officer in the Royal Air Force following extensive life experiences.