Cohort 2 AgriFoRwArdS student, Amie Owen, shares her experience on travelling to L’Aquila, Italy to present as lead author her paper “Towards the application of multi agent task allocation to hygiene tasks in the food production industry” at the 20th International Conference on Practical Applications of Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (PAAMS).
I attended the 20th Conference in L’Aquila, Italy making use of a part of my AgriFoRwArdS Research Training Support Grant. A colleague of mine, Dr Helen Harman (part of the Lincoln Agri-Robotics LAR), had also had a paper accepted and so we flew over together the night before the conference was due to start.
We arrived into Rome Fiumicino airport at around 8pm on the evening of the 12th July and waited for our coach to take us from Rome to L’Aquila, quite an interesting route through mountains that we hadn’t quite appreciated until we were on the way back and there was enough daylight to see out!
When we arrived in L’Aquila at around 11.45pm that evening we made a speedy walk to our hotels that night to rest in preparation for the conference ahead.
Arriving at the conference the following morning we received a warm welcome along with an introduction pack with everything that we would need, including a few extra goodies – a UnivAQ (L’Aquila University) water bottle and face mask. We settled in our seats for the conference to begin. Hosts and presenters were seated at a long table in front of the conference attendees, introducing themselves in turn. They discussed the main focus for PAAMS being the practical application of the theories when working with Agents (researchers in this field define an agent to have certain properties, skills and knowledge etc. and coordinating more than one agent needs further design of a system or environment). The challenge becomes more interesting, and complex, when theories are applied to a real world applications. Many researchers in this area spend a great deal of time simulating an environment and we were reminded of the notion that all simulations of real world systems are wrong, but some are useful, the goal for us all being to design some useful simulations!
The first Plenary Speaker was Juan Manuel Corchado from the University of Salamanca who spoke about ‘Intelligence 5.0: the human being at the centre of the production chain’. He highlighted some of the pitfalls of dealing with AI and Agents without considering human preferences and characteristics, speaking about his Grandfather’s dislike of a robot assistant.
I presented my paper ‘Towards the Application of Multi-Agent Task Allocation to Hygiene Tasks in the Food Production Industry’ on the first day of the conference as part of the Workshop on Artificial Intelligence for Industry (AI4Industry). It was great to be able to share my work and to have a sounding board for my theories and techniques.
At the end of the day we attended a Welcome Reception at the Palazzo dell’Emiciclo, a brilliant way to speak to other presenters more informally.
The Plenary Speaker on the second day, Tiziana Catarci from the Sapienza University of Roma, gave a very thoughtful talk focusing on some of the ethical concerns of AI, in particular its ability to discriminate against certain sections of society. She gave many examples of when AI discrimination had happened in practice and the delay in detecting that the AI was doing this!
There were many interesting presentations which really got me thinking about alternative ways to conduct my own research, different ways to structure my simulations and inspired me to seek to improve my own work over the next few years. The conference reinforced my understanding of how important it is to understand the real world application for which I am building a simulation.
Thank you AgriFoRwArdS for the opportunity to attend the conference!
Thanks you to Amie for taking the time to share with us her experiences of travelling to present her research, sharing with us with process, and allowing us to join in the journey!
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