DATE: Monday, July 21, 2008
TIME: 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm


John Wilkes
HP Labs

Delegating Control to Automated Systems

Once people have been removed from the control loop for automated systems, the people need mechanisms to tell those systems what they should do, how to make tradeoffs, and what they are not permitted to do. The inability to express this results in customer dissatisfaction, poor performance, unmet expectations - and occasional unpleasant surprises. A scheme based on economic incentives is one fruitful way of providing the necessary guidance, and I will discuss a couple of techniques that appear promising in this area, as well as some ways of looking at the problem that I have found helpful. Using pricing mechanisms and utility theory turns out to be surprisingly tricky, but it seems likely that doing so successfully will provide a way to unify many of the different threads around control of automated systems. I'll end with a few thoughts on what we should do to increase the likelihood that we will trust the systems to which we are delegating so many choices.

If time permits, I will also provide a quick introduction to HP Labs's new scalable storage project.

John joined HP Labs in 1982 with a PhD from Cambridge University (his thesis work won the BCS Technology Award, and the Computer Journal's [Maurice] Wilkes prize). He is an HP Fellow and an ACM Fellow, with wide-ranging interests in distributed systems and agorics; he's most well-known for his work on storage management, for which he was given the HP Labs Birnbaum prize. He is an Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon University; has participated in about a dozen top-tier program committees; has been/is program chair for SOSP'99 and EuroSys'09; and was an assistant editor for ACM TOCS. John has authored or co-authored about 40 refereed publications and submitted about 60 invention disclosures to HP, of which half have so far been granted patents.

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If you would like to meet with John on Monday, July 21 or Tuesday, July 22, please email Karen your available time slots.

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