April 22 – 27 , 2018, Dagstuhl Seminar 18171

Normative Multi-Agent Systems


Mehdi Dastani (Utrecht University, NL)
Jürgen Dix (TU Clausthal, DE)
Harko Verhagen (Stockholm University, SE)
Serena Villata (Laboratoire I3S – Sophia Antipolis, FR)

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Dagstuhl Report, Volume 8, Issue 4 Dagstuhl Report
Aims & Scope
List of Participants
Shared Documents


The multi-disciplinary workshop on Normative Multi-Agent Systems attracted leading international scholars from different research fields (e.g. theoretical computer science, programming languages, cognitive sciences, law, and social sciences).

The seminar was a blend of talks, discussions and group work. It began on the first day with short "teaser talks" (10+5 minutes) related to the main topic of norms and responsibility, one given by almost each participant. The talks were meant to be inspiring and thought-provoking, channeling ideas for the following days. While some missed the established procedure with longer talks, the new format was overall very well received and allowed for many different thoughts and concepts to be presented and discussed in relatively short time.

Four working groups formed at the end of the first day for the norm-related topics responsibility, new logics, ethics/values and (machine) learning.

The aim of the group sessions, on the second and fourth day, was to get a shared understanding of the specific topics and to identify future research possibilities. Each group reported back in a plenary session at the end of each group work day, where the groups also tried to establish interconnections between them.

Responsibility. This group discussed how to grasp the very abstract concept of responsibility. A big chunk was dedicated to the formalization of responsibility. Many (vastly different) assumptions were laid out. The problem of "delegating responsibility" was discussed with special intensity. The group (being by far the largest one) split later to discuss different notions of responsibility on the basis of selected examples. A working paper was produced, included in this report under Section~ ef{Sec:resp}.

New logics. The aim of this group was to find out how to tackle norms and responsibility in terms of logics, especially how new logics for this task could be devised.

Ethics/values. This group discussed the more ethics-oriented aspects of normative systems. Values provide an additional layer for normative reasoning: e.g. "how acceptable is it to violate a given norm?" The group produced a draft of a paper on "The Value(s) of Water" connecting NorMAS to the AI for Good initiative. Work is planned to continue during 2018 resulting in a paper for publication, e.g. in ACM communications or a similar outlet.

(Machine) Learning. The learning group discussed the opportunity of integrating norms and responsibility into machine learning procedures. As those are usually opaque, this presents as a notable challenge. For example, the learning's input data has to be pre-processed to get a normatively acting system. Also, the learned sub-symbolic system should be enhanced with "regular" symbolic reasoning, which can be better regulated by norms and analysed for responsibility.

The fourth day was further enriched by a brainstorming session to identify possible applications. The subsequent clustering revealed the topics

  • transport, e.g. smart grid/home, intelligent cars,
  • tools, e.g. for autonomous service composition, legal reasoning, or supporting software/requirements engineering,
  • climate & agriculture, e.g. agents negotiating fertilizer and water use, or an app that helps monitoring personal climate-affecting activities,
  • societies, e.g. norms improving sustainability, monitoring of online forums for bad behavior or hate speech detection,
  • security, e.g. protecting personal freedom by dynamically analysing normative consequences of law proposals, monitoring a company's compliance with EU regulations, improving access to restricted access datasets, or making societies resilient for data surveillance by means of contract negotiations,
  • health, e.g. ethical decision-making, norms for improving personal health and fitness, defining wellbeing by norms, handling of patient/health data, and a big interest in healthcare robots,
  • energy, e.g. modelling energy security with norms, managing air quality, observing long-term consequences, agents monitoring (personal) energy use to identify bad behavior, or regulating industrial relations or the energy and material footprint.

The application areas were discussed in a plenary session and formed the input to the discussion on future plans for the NorMAS community. Several conferences were identified to target proposals for a NorMAS-related workshop as part of the event. The community sees many relevant application areas not in the least in autonomous internet services and physical agents susch as robots, vehicles and drones, where social reasoning will be of the utmost importance. Bringing the work from NorMAS to these areas will be highly benificial to the involved communities.

  Creative Commons BY 3.0 Unported license
  Mehdi Dastani, Jürgen Dix, and Harko Verhagen

Dagstuhl Seminar Series


  • Artificial Intelligence / Robotics
  • Semantics / Formal Methods
  • Software Engineering


  • Responsibility
  • Autonomous Systems
  • Norm-based systems
  • Control and Coordination


In the series Dagstuhl Reports each Dagstuhl Seminar and Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop is documented. The seminar organizers, in cooperation with the collector, prepare a report that includes contributions from the participants' talks together with a summary of the seminar.


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