Utopia for Realists: And How We Can Get There

Rutger Bregman


A paean to what's to come, to the need for radical changes in the economy and social norms in the face of a "utopia" of automation and globalisation. It's a provocation of the first order, strongly in favour of universal basic income, strongly against nationalism and hard borders. As such it feels "utopian" in the classic sense of being an unrealisable dream – but a closely-argued dream that highlights desirable changes, and well aware of the irony that the world we live in, with health and wealth and many jobs being automated, is exactly the world that most of human history aspired to.

Finished on Sun, 29 Jul 2018 04:50:23 -0700.   Rating 3*/5*.

All the President's Men

Carl Bernstein


A story of dedicated reporting in the face of both active and passive discouragement. This book is interesting because it, again, it written before the end of the story is known: before Nixon's resignation and all the subsequent fallout.

Being written so in the moment, there's an assumption that the reader lived through and followed the events being described: Woodward and Bernstein don't seem to be writing for posterity. As such the book makes little sense unless the reader has at least a passing – and actually more than a passing – acquaintance with the events and characters. That can make it hard to keep up with.

Finished on Sun, 29 Jul 2018 04:43:07 -0700.   Rating 4*/5*.

Killers of the Flower Moon: Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI

David Grann


A narrative history of a largely forgotten mass murder. It's a very American tale, in many ways: the Osage Native American Nation is exiled from its homelands and forced to live on a rocky and barren reservation of worthless land – which then turns out to sit on top of huge oil deposits. In many ways the tribe is lucky, because the laws of the US have advanced sufficiently that they are allowed to licence their oil rather than being moved on again; in other ways they are unlucky because, in order to avoid making native rich too easily, a system of "guardianship" is instituted whereby "incompetent" Native Americans have their interests looked after by local whites, which turns out to be an open invitation for fraud, theft, and murder. It becomes such an industry that husbands can honestly say, when asked their profession, "I married an Osage".

The killings and the investigation are carefully and dramatically described, but the real sting is in the tail, the last chapter that demonstrates how the investigations were really only the tip of an iceberg that gave rise to a huge number of unexplained and unexamined deaths as whites sought control of the oil revenues. While the case gave rise to the FBI in its modern form (and was used ruthlessly by J. Edgar Hoover), its investigation was plainly deficient and limited in order to generate maximum victory with limited wider scandal. It's an open question how many other allegedly "closed" cases hide a similar secret.

Finished on Sat, 26 May 2018 12:58:42 -0700.   Rating 4*/5*.

Citizen sensing with Arduino

Introducing some notes on low-power Arduino programming.

In 2013 I did a summer project on using the Arduino as a platform for "citizen sensing". This rapidly became an exploration of how to create hardware and software that can do sensing while operating in a very low-power regime, such as one would need for an environmental sensor.

There were several results from this project -- one of which wasn't an actual solution to the motivating problem I'd come up with. However, it did generate a lot of notes about low-power Arduino programming, both for hardware and software, and a software library that embodies some of them

I recently decommissioned the web site I was using to host this content, so I've ported it onto my main blog as a collection of research and development notes in case it's still of interest to anyone.

Call for papers: 3rd Workshop on Engineering Collective Adaptive Systems (eCAS 2018)

Come and join us in Trento for eCAS.



3rd Workshop on Engineering Collective Adaptive Systems – eCAS 2018 In conjunction with FAS* 2018

September 7th, 2018 Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK) & University of Trento - Trento, Italy

Web site: ecas2018.apice.unibo.it


Modern software systems are becoming more and more collective, composed of many distributed and heterogeneous entities. These systems operate under continuous perturbations making manual adjustments infeasible. For a collective system to be resilient, its adaptation must also be collective, in the sense that multiple entities must adapt in a way that addresses critical runtime conditions while preserving the benefits of the collaborative interdependencies. Decision-making in such systems is distributed and possibly highly dispersed, and interaction between the entities may lead to the emergence of unexpected phenomena.

In such systems, a new approach for adaptation is needed to allow (i) multiple entities to collectively adapt with (ii) negotiations to decide which collective changes are best. Collective adaptation also raises a second important challenge: which parts of the system (things, services, people) should be engaged in an adaptation? This is not trivial, since multiple solutions to the same problem may be generated at different levels. The challenge here is to understand these levels and create mechanisms to decide the right scope for an adaptation for a given problem.

This workshop solicits papers that address new methodologies, theories and principles that can be used in order to develop a better understanding of the fundamental factors underpinning the operation of such systems, so that we can better design, build, and analyze them, as well as case studies and applications showing such approaches in action. Interdisciplinary work is particularly welcomed.

Suggested Topics (but not limited to):

  • Novel theories relating to operating principles of CAS
  • Novel design principles for building CAS systems
  • Insights into the short and long-term adaptation of CAS systems
  • Insights into emergent properties of CAS
  • Insights into general properties of large scale, distributed CAS
  • Decision-making approaches in CAS
  • Methodologies for studying, analyzing, and building CAS
  • Frameworks for analyzing or developing CAS case studies
  • Languages, platforms, APIs and other tools for CAS
  • Scenarios, case studies, and experience reports of CAS in different contexts (e.g., Smart Mobility, Smart Energy/Smart Grid, Smart Buildings, traffic management, emergency response, etc.)

The workshop is expected to attract participants from many disciplines, including Autonomic Computing, Biology, Game Theory, Evolutionary Computing, Network Science, Self-Organizing Systems, Pervasive Computing, and to be of interest to anyone working with the domain of large-scale self-adaptive systems. In addition, the European Commission has funded seven scientific projects and a Coordination Action in this area, with projects starting at the beginning of 2013. Thus, the workshop provides a natural base for the projects to meet and share ideas, even if it is in no way limited to this audience, and is likely to have broad appeal to a wide range of researchers. Potential audience members might work in application areas relating to large-scale distributed systems, or may come from any of the many disciplines that can provide insights into the operation and design of such systems.


  • Abstract submission: June 4, 2018
  • Workshop paper submission: June 11, 2018
  • Workshop paper notification: July 9, 2018
  • Camera-Ready Version: July 15, 2018
  • Workshop: September 3, 2018

The length of a workshop paper may not exceed 6 pages including references and follow the IEEE Computer Society Press proceedings style guide.

All papers should be submitted in PDF format. You can submit the paper through EasyChair using this link:


By submitting a paper, the authors confirm that in case of acceptance, at least one author will attend the workshop to present the work.

Papers will be peer reviewed on the basis of originality, readability, relevance to themes, soundness, and overall quality. Workshop proceedings will be published on IEEE Xplore in parallel with the main conference proceedings.


  • Jacob Beal, Raytheon BBN Technologies, USA
  • Giacomo Cabri, University of Modena And Reggio Emilia, Italy
  • Nicola Capodieci, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
  • Emma Hart, Edinburgh Napier University, U.K
  • Jane Hillston, University of Edinburgh, U.K
  • Mirko Viroli, University of Bologna, Italy
  • Gerrit Anders, Augsburg University
  • Franco Bagnoli, Università di Firenze
  • Ezio Bartocci, TU Wien
  • Luca Bortolussi, University of Trieste
  • Johann Bourcier, IRISA/INRIA-Universite de Rennes 1
  • Javier Camara, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Siobhan Clarke, Trinity College Dublin
  • Daniel Coore, University of the West Indies
  • Ferruccio Damiani, Dipartimento di Informatica, Università di Torino
  • Rocco De Nicola, IMT - School for Advanced Studies Lucca
  • Giovanna Di Marzo Serugendo, University of Geneva
  • Schahram Dustdar, TU Wien
  • Jane Hillston, University of Edinburgh
  • Paola Inverardi, University of L’Aquila
  • Eva Kühn, TU Wien
  • Peter Lewis, Aston University
  • Nicolas Markey, LSV, CNRS & ENS Cachan
  • Annapaola Marconi, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento
  • Hernan Melgratti -- University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Monjur Mourshed, Cardiff University, UK
  • Mirco Musolesi, University College London
  • Carlo Pinciroli, École Polytechnique de Montreal
  • Alexander Schiendorfer, University Augsburg
  • Bradley Schmerl, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Antoine Spicher, LACL University Paris Est Creteil
  • Katia Sycara, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Christof Teuscher, Portland State University
  • Mirko Viroli, Università di Bologna
  • Martin Wirsing, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen

All attendees at the workshop must register for SASO through the conference website:  https://saso2018.fbk.eu/index.php/registration/

Research fellow in verifiable sensor systems

The Science of Sensor Systems Software (S4) programme grant (of which I'm a PI) has a vacancy for a research fellow based at the University of Glasgow.

Research Assistant / Associate / Fellow

University of Glasgow - College of Science and Engineering - School of Computing Science

Salary: Grade 6/7/8; £28,098 - £31,604 / £34,520 - £38,833 / £42,418 - £49,149 per annum.

The School of Computing Science at the University of Glasgow invites applications for a Post Doctoral Research Associate or Fellow position in the leading-edge research project Science of Sensor System Software (S4)

Research is focused on delivering new principles and techniques for the development and deployment of verifiable, reliable, autonomous sensor-based systems that operate in uncertain, multiple and multi-scale environments. The S4 programme grant is a collaboration between four universities and you will be expected to work closely with researchers across the four universities.

This position offers an exciting opportunity to gain first-hand insights into the development of sensor-based systems and to develop and apply novel modelling and reasoning techniques that contribute to the goals of verifying reliability, robustness, security, etc. Depending on your experience, the role offers considerable intellectual freedom and opportunities for you to take significant initiative, leadership, and responsibility.

The job requires expert knowledge in one or more of: formal modelling and specification, stochastic and temporal logics, automated reasoning, sensor networks, run-time verification, real-world applications. Experience of bigraphs and model checking would be an advantage. You must have started to build up a strong publication record, have excellent programming and modelling skills, and be able to quickly integrate software, e.g. for model-checking, simulation, and verification. You should be competent to undertake hands-on work related to modelling and verification of chosen, real-life case-studies.

You hold, or expect to hold, a PhD in Computer Science or in a closely related field; alternatively, you have a first degree in one of the above-mentioned subjects and substantial experience in a research role in industry. Fresh PhD graduates are also encouraged to apply.

For appointment at Grade 8 you will need to meet the additional criteria as per the Job Description.

This post is offered as open-ended contract with funding available for up to 30 months.

It is anticipated that interviews will be held in March or April 2018.

For further information and to discuss details please contact the Principal Investigator, Professor Muffy Calder (email: muffy.calder@glasgow.ac.uk).

CfP: SASO 2018

Come and join us in Trento for SASO 2018.

12th IEEE International Conference on Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems (SASO 2018) 3-7 September 2018, Trento, Italy

Aims and Motivation

The aim of the Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems conference series (SASO) is to provide a forum for the presentation and discussion of research on the foundations of engineered systems that self-adapt and self-organize. The complexity of current and emerging networks, software, and services can be characterized by issues such as scale, heterogeneity, openness, and dynamics in the environment. This has led the software engineering, distributed systems, and management communities to look for inspiration in diverse fields (e.g., complex systems, control theory, artificial intelligence, chemistry, psychology, sociology, and biology) to find new ways of designing and managing such computing systems in a principled way. In this endeavor, self-organization and self-adaptation have emerged as two promising interrelated approaches. They form the basis of many other so-called self- properties, such as self-configuration, self-healing, or self-optimization. SASO aims to be an interdisciplinary meeting, where contributions from participants with different backgrounds leads to the fostering of a cross-pollination of ideas, and where innovative theories, frameworks, methodologies, tools, and applications can emerge.


The twelfth edition of the SASO conference embraces this interdisciplinary nature, and welcomes novel contributions to both the foundational and application-focused dimensions of self-adaptive and self-organizing systems research. We are looking for contributions that present new fundamental understanding of self-adaptive and self-organizing systems and how they can be engineered and used. The topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
  • Self-
Systems theory: nature-inspired and socially-inspired paradigms and heuristics; inter-operation of self- mechanisms; theoretical frameworks and models; control theory;
  • Self-
  • System properties: robustness; resilience; stability; anti-fragility; diversity; self-reference and reflection; emergent behavior; computational awareness and self-awareness;
  • Self- Systems engineering: reusable mechanisms and algorithms; design patterns; architectures; methodologies; software and middleware development frameworks and methods; platforms and toolkits; multi-agent systems;
  • Theory and practice of self-organization: self-governance, change management, electronic institutions, distributed consensus, commons, knowledge management, and the general use of rules, policies, etc. in self- systems;
  • Theory and practice of self-adaptation: mechanisms for adaptation, including evolution, logic, learning; adaptability, plasticity, flexibility;
  • Socio-technical self- systems: human and social factors; visualization; crowdsourcing and collective awareness; humans-in-the-loop; ethics and humanities in self- systems;
  • Data-driven approaches to self- systems: data mining; machine learning; data science and other statistical techniques to analyze, understand, and manage the behavior of complex systems;
  • Self-adaptive and self-organizing hardware: self- materials; self-construction; reconfigurable hardware;
  • Self- Systems Education: experience reports; curricula; innovative course concepts; methodological aspects of self- systems education;
  • Applications and experiences with self-* systems: smart grid, smart cities, smart homes, adaptive industrial plants, cyber-physical systems; autonomous vehicles and robotics; traffic management; self-adaptive cyber-security; Internet of Things; fog/edge computing; etc.
  • Important Dates

    Abstract submission April 16, 2018
    Paper submission April 23, 2018
    Notification June 4, 2018
    Camera ready copy due July 2, 2018
    Conference September 3-7, 2018

    Submission Instructions

    Submissions can have up to 10 pages formatted according to the standard IEEE Computer Society Press proceedings style guide (see templates here). Please submit your papers electronically in PDF format using the SASO 2018 conference management system: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=saso2018.

    The proceedings will be published by IEEE Computer Society Press, and made available as a part of the IEEE Digital Library. Note that a separate Call for Poster and Demo Submissions will also be issued. As per the standard IEEE policies, all submissions should be original, i.e., they should not have been previously published in any conference proceedings, book, or journal and should not currently be under review for another archival conference. We would like to also highlight IEEE’s policies regarding plagiarism and self-plagiarism (http://www.ieee.org/publications_standards/publications/rights/ID_Plagiarism.html).

    Where relevant and appropriate, accepted papers will also be encouraged to participate in the Demo or Poster Sessions.

    Review Criteria

    Papers should present novel ideas in the cross-disciplinary research context described in this call, motivated by problems from current practice or applied research. Both theoretical and empirical contributions should be highlighted, substantiated by formal analysis, simulation, experimental evaluations, or comparative studies, etc. Appropriate references must be made to related work. Due to the cross-disciplinary nature of the SASO conference, we encourage papers to be intelligible and relevant to researchers who are not members of the same specialized sub-field.

    Authors are also encouraged to submit papers describing applications. Application papers should provide an indication of the real-world relevance of the problem that is solved, including a description of the domain, and an evaluation of performance, usability, or comparison to alternative approaches. Experience papers are also welcome, especially if they highlight insights into any aspect of design, implementation or management of self-* systems that would be of benefit to practitioners and the SASO community. All submissions will be rigorously peer reviewed and evaluated based on the quality of their technical contribution, originality, soundness, significance, presentation, understanding of the state of the art, and overall quality.

    Contact Information

    Conference General Chairs
    Antonio Bucchiarone, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, IT

    Alberto Montresor, University of Trento, IT

    Programme Chairs
    Jake Beal, Raytheon BBN Technologies, USA

    Nelly Bencomo, Aston University, UK

    Jean Botev, University of Luxembourg, LU

    The Book of Iona: An Anthology

    Robert Crawford

    An anthology that rally gives a taste of the island. Robert Crawford (my colleague at St Andrews) is . talented poet in his own right, and he provides marvellously accessible translations of many of the poems associated with St Columba. These, coupled with several short stories set wholly or in part on Iona – and even an essay by another of my colleagues, Al Dearle, about the difficulties of providing internet access in wild parts – make this a book to dip into for inspiration and relief from "normal" life.

    Finished on Sat, 03 Mar 2018 12:05:30 -0800.   Rating 4*/5*.