08.10.17 - 11.10.17, Seminar 17412

Internet of People

The following text appeared on our web pages prior to the seminar, and was included as part of the invitation.


The diffusion of personal (mobile) devices and pervasive communication technologies is expected to exponentially increase in the next few years, resulting in the fact that the Internet will expand dramatically at its edges – much more than in the core. Users (and their devices) will be embedded in a dynamic networking environment populated by a huge amount of data, with plenty of possibilities for direct interaction and data exchanges with devices nearby. This motivates to conceive a brand-new Internet paradigm, where humans and their personal devices are not anymore passive users of the Internet technologies, but they play an active role in the network algorithms at all layers, not only in services and applications. This paradigm can be thought as an “Anti-Copernican Revolution”, as it puts (back) the human at the centre of the stage in the design of Internet networking.

According to this view, we see the Internet future research as a truly inter-disciplinary field, shaped by at least five interacting dimensions, i.e. (i) network algorithms and protocols, (ii) sociology and anthropology, (iii) cognitive psychology, (iv) micro-economics, and (v) physics of complex systems. Due to its human-centric nature, in this new Internet paradigm users’ devices become proxies of their users: they communicate, exchange and manage data by “emulating” the way their human users would do if interacting with each other in the physical world. Thus, they embed as key components of the network algorithms models of the human behaviour, both at the individual and social level, provided by the four “non-ICT” disciplines. This is not yet another bio-inspired networking wave. Embedding models of human behaviour in the Internet algorithms is a natural way to make devices behave as their human users would do if faced with the same choices and decisions.

We see now a strong opportunity to engage key researchers working on Internet paradigms with the aim to catalyse a research community on Internet of People. While the concept of a human-centric Internet that exploits models from social sciences, economy, complex systems is “floating” in various research communities, a structured effort to bring researchers together and create a community around the IoP idea is still missing. The key goals of this Dagstuhl Seminar are:

  1. to bring together a distinguished set of researchers from the IoP key disciplines, make them aware of the IoP vision, collect their feedback, and engage their reference communities through them;
  2. to engage them with Internet researchers, discussing models of human individual and social behaviour that can be used in IoP;
  3. define a research agenda for an IoP community;
  4. plan the following steps to establish an inter-disciplinary IoP research community.

An initial set of research questions that we will propose for the discussion is as follows.

  1. Long-term IoP vision. What is the vision we have for the IoP, and the role of human users in its design? Starting from a clean slate, how could we re-design the Internet using the IoP concepts?
  2. “Non-ICT” results for IoP. What are existing quantitative models describing human individual and social behaviours that can be embedded into the design of IoP protocols and systems?
  3. Inter-disciplinary network systems pre-IoP. Can we identify “success stories” where inter-disciplinary approaches to the design of Internet systems have been successfully applied?
  4. IoP impact on Internet systems design. Where would the IoP concepts impact most on the Internet design?
  5. Transition towards IoP. What are examples of current Internet technologies that are closest to our long-term IoP vision? Why are they successful? Can they be the leverage for a transition from the current Internet design paradigms towards IoP?

Creative Commons BY 3.0 Unported license
Elizabeth M. Belding, Jörg Ott, Andrea Passarella, and Peter Reichl