Brussels, 22 Mar 2004
The European Commission is providing 4.3 million euro for a new project aimed at developing a new generation of embodied agents able to interact and communicate, without human intervention, with the physical world.
The project, funded under the information society technologies (IST) priority of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), will develop new design principles capable of extending the functionality of existing technological artefacts, such as mobile phones, robots and robot-like artefacts. The project will run until January 2008.
It is hoped this project, called ECAgents, will trigger significant breakthroughs in emergent technologies and lead to the development of new innovative devices, from self-developing robots to the semantic web and ubiquitous wireless devices.
'The project will develop concepts, tools, and models for analysing collections of both natural and artificial agents, algorithms, definitions of dynamical systems, and performance analysis tools for designing artefacts that consist of evolving populations of interacting and communicating embodied agents,' explained Stefano Nolfi from the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies in Rome - one of the project partners.
Scientists from nine European countries and Japan will investigate the properties of different communication systems, whether simple, such as animal or human language, or technology-supported. The research aims at providing both a better understanding of existing communication systems and ideas for new technologies based on embodied and communicating devices.
All the partners involved in this project have been experimenting with robots, wireless devices, ubiquitous environments and living systems, including humans, using the most innovative and advanced IT technology available. The focus of this project, however, is to further develop scientific foundations by using techniques from complex systems research.
'An evolving communication system and its underlying adaptive ontology will be viewed as a complex adaptive system, and evolutionary theory, information theory, game theory, network theory, and dynamical systems theory will all significantly contribute to its study. There is today still a tremendous gap (with some notable counter-examples) between complex systems research and IT, but this project is determined to bridge this gap,' said Mr Nolfi.
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