Workshop on Collective Adaptation in Very Large Scale Ubicomp: Towards a Superorganism of Wearables


Workshop at Ubicomp2015, Osaka, Japan: September 7, 2015

The 2nd workshop (after the UBICOMP 2014 WS in Seattle) asks questions on the potential and opportunities of turning massively deployed wearable systems to a globe-spanning superorganism of socially interactive personal digital assistants. While individual wearables are of heterogeneous provenance and typically act autonomously, it stands to reason that they can (and will) self-organize into large scale cooperative collectives, with humans being mostly out-of-the-loop. A common objective or central controller may thereby not be assumed, but rather volatile network topologies, co-dependence and internal competition, non-linear and non-continuous dynamics, and sub-ideal, failure-prone operation. We refer to these emerging massive collectives of wearables as a “superorganism”, since they exhibit properties of a living organism (like e.g. ‘collective intelligence’) on their own. One essential aspect of such globe-spanning collective ensembles is that they often exhibit properties typically observed in complex systems, like (i) spontaneous, dynamic network con?guration, with (ii) individual nodes acting in parallel, (iii) constantly acting and reacting to what the other agents are doing, and (iv) where the control tends to be highly dispersed and decentralized. If there is to be any coherent behavior in the system, it (v) has to arise from competition and cooperation among the individual nodes, so that the overall behavior of the system is the result of a huge number of decisions made every moment by many individual entities.In order to properly exploit such superorganisms, this workshop concerns itself with the development of a deeper scientific understanding of the foundational principles by which they operate. To this end, the workshop attempts to address the following foundational research concerns:

– Understanding the trade-offs between the power of top-down (by design) adaptation means and bottom-up (by emergence) ones, also by studying how the two approaches co-exist in modern wearable ICT systems, and possibly contributing to smoothing the tension between the two approaches.

– Understanding the “power of the masses” principle as far as participatory wearable ICT processes are involved. In particular, this implies understanding how and to what extent even very simple collective phenomena and algorithms – when involving billions of wearables – can express forms of intelligence much superior than that of more traditional AI techniques.

– Understanding the issue of diversity and of diversity increase in complex systems and in service/data systems and how diversity of structure and behavior is currently accommodated in wearable ICT systems. As of now, most studies focus on a limited number of different classes, which is far from approximating the diversity of existing systems.

– Laying down new foundations for the modelling of large-scale Human-ICT organisms and their adaptive behaviors, also including lessons from applied psychology, sociology, and social anthropology, other than from systemic biology, ecology and complexity science.
– Identifying models and tools by which individual organs of the systems can influence and direct “by design” the emergent adaptive behavior of the whole system, or at least of substantial parts of it.

Further, the workshop attempts to address the following systems research concerns:

– Opportunistic information collection: Systems need to be able to function in complex, dynamic environments where they have to deal with unpredictable changes in available infrastructures and learn to cooperate with other systems and human beings in complex self-organized ensembles.

– Collaborative Reasoning and Emergent Effects: Reasoning methods and system models are needed that combine machine learning methods with complexity theory to account for global emergent effects resulting from feedback loops between collaborative, interconnected devices and their users.

– Social Awareness: Whereas today’s context-aware systems are able to make sense of the activity of single users and their immediate environment, future systems should be able to analyze, understand and predict complex social phenomena on a broad range of spatial and temporal scales. Examples of the derived information could be: shifts in collective opinions and social attitudes, changes in consumer behavior, the emergence of tensions in communities, demographics, migration, mobility patterns, or health trends.


FoCAS are sponsoring Mirko Viroli (Alma Mater Studiorum-Università di Bologna) to deliver a talk at UBICOMP workshop – Collective Adaptation in very large scale UBICOMP: The Superorganism of Massive Collective Wearables

Mirko Viroli

Mirko Viroli

Title: Programming Very-large Scale Systems of Wearables

Emerging and future pervasive computing scenarios will soon feature a dramatic increase in the number of networked wearable devices: any computational mechanism involving humans (sensing, actuation, situation recognition, decision-making) will have the opportunity of involving large ensembles. What would be the proper programming model for such systems? We argue that it is nothing about current mainstream approaches, since they lack the suitable abstractions needed to smoothly address explosion of scale, resiliency and self-* properties, and heterogeneity of communication and computation infrastructure. We propose aggregate computing, a new approach for the development of large-scale, emerging pervasive computing systems. It considers as reference computing “machine” the overall “Superorganism of Wearables”, abstracted to a mobile and densely interconnected continuum capable of manipulating physically-distributed computational structures as a whole. Independence from the details of the underlying network (size, density, topology, mobility) and support of resilience properties (adaptation, robustness, stabilisation) will no longer be a programming concern, but rather inherent features of the approach achieved by self-organisation “under-the-hood”. In this talk, we give an overview of aggregate computing, and discuss its many facets and challenges: theoretical ground, production toolchain, libraries of reusable quality components, and run-time support.


09:00 Registration
09:30 Workshop Opening
10:00 Keynote I ? “What if you know it all? Quantifying human behavior from a virtual world”
Stefan Thurner, Medical University of Vienna, Austria
10:45 Coffee Break
11:00 Invited Talk – “Collective Eyewear”
Kai Kunze, Keio University, Japan
11:40 Invited Talk – “Contact-free Sensing for Collective Activity Recognition”
Stephan Sigg, University Goettingen, Germany
12:20 Lunch Break
14:00 Keynote II ? “Programming Very-large Scale Systems of Wearables”
Mirko Viroli, Università di Bologna, Italy
14:45 Coffee Break
15:00 Technology – are we there yet?
Position Statements by Participants (10 mins, 4 slides each)
15:40 Understanding, Modelling, Inducing Collective Behaviour
Position Statements by Participants (10 mins, 4 slides each)
16:20 Coffee Break
16:30 Short Talk ? “CAS Research Agenda”
Alois Ferscha, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria
16:50 Open Discussion
17:45 Workshop Summary and Consolidation
18:00 Workshop Concluded


All contributions must be submitted using the OpenConf workshop paper submission system on the workshop webpage and be formatted using the SIGCHI Extended Abstract Format.

Full Papers
Regular paper submissions must present original, highly innovative, prospective and forward-looking research in one or more of the themes given above. Full papers must break new ground, present new insight, deliver a significant research contribution and provide validated support for its results and conclusions. The workshop solicits (i) conceptual papers describing proposals for novel methodologies, theories and principles that might be used in order to design, develop and build, analyse and operate massive collectives of wearables, (ii) observational, epistemological and user study papers to deliver evidence for possible future scenarios, and emerging platforms and technologies as well as (iii) system-development papers proposing ingenious, novel HW/SW platforms.

Suggested topics include (but are not limited to)
– Novel complex adaptive system theories and operational principles.
– Novel design principles for building complex adaptive systems.
– Insights into evolutionary and emergent complex adaptive system properties
– Methodologies, Models, Algorithms, Frameworks and Tools for studying, analyzing and building complex adaptive systems.
– Case-studies / very large scale scenarios that can serve as reference case for future superorganisms of collective wearables.

Each paper must be submitted as a single PDF file in SIGCHI Extended Abstract format (not longer than six pages in length) using the OpenConf workshop paper submission system on the workshop webpage. The best workshop contributions will be invited to be included in an upcoming Special Issue of the International Journal of Pervasive Computing and Communications (IJPCC). Submissions to this workshop must not be under review by any other conference or publication during the workshop review cycle, and must not be previously published or accepted for publication elsewhere.

Position Papers
In addition to the submission of research papers, this workshop promotes the submission of position papers. Each paper must be submitted as a single DOC file using the template available on the workshop webpage (not longer than two pages in length) by email directed to Papers are required to outline a description of the area of research, specific work (empirical or theoretical) on the workshop topic, and the innovative character of the research.

REVIEWING PROCESS FOR FULL AND POSITION PAPERS The selection of workshop participants will be carried out by means of a peer review process. To guarantee fair decisions, experts from related research ?elds will serve as reviewers. Submissions need not to be anonymous, however reviews will be realized anonymously using the evaluation form provided by the submission system. Please refer to the paper submission link at the workshop website ( Questions about papers, position papers and late submissions should be directed to

The workshop proceedings will be published in the printed UbiComp 2015 adjunct proceedings. Position papers will be published as part of the FoCAS (Fundamentals of Collective Adaptive Systems) white book.

– Alois Ferscha (University of Linz, Austria)
– Paul Lukowicz (DFKI, Germany)
– Franco Zambonelli (Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy)

All Details and News:

Full CfP PDF: