This article is published in the November 2020 issue.

Assured Autonomy Workshop Report Released

The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is pleased to announce the release of the Assured Autonomy report, titled Assured Autonomy: Path Toward Living With Autonomous Systems We Can Trust.  

The report is the result of a year-long effort by the CCC and over 100 members of the research community, led by Ufuk Topcu (The University of Texas at Austin). Workshop organizers included Nadya Bliss (Arizona State University and CCC), Nancy Cooke (Arizona State University), Missy Cummings (Duke University), Ashley Llorens (Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory), Howard Shrobe (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and Lenore Zuck (University of Illinois at Chicago). 

Given the immense interest and investment in autonomy, a series of three workshops, held in October 2019, February 2020, and July 2020, on Assured Autonomy was convened to facilitate dialogs and increase awareness among the stakeholders in the academia, industry, and government. 

The following findings of this workshop series outline the challenges and shortcomings that need to be addressed so that autonomy can sustainably fuel a long-lasting transformation.

  • No good can come from autonomy without proper assurance.
  • The goal of assured autonomy is human-centered — to amplify, augment, enhance, and empower humans.
  • Autonomous systems have a diverse set of vulnerabilities.
  • Open operation environments amplify technical challenges.
  • Assurance is context-dependent and not once-and-for-all.
  • Assurance for autonomous systems requires a major re-think.
  • Means for measuring the progress and characterizing the gaps are necessary.
  • Autonomy is a socio-economic opportunity and challenge.
  • The public will perceive and be affected by autonomy unevenly.
  • The challenges in autonomy require interdisciplinary approaches.
  • Strengthening connections between the stakeholders will accelerate progress.
  • A re-envisioning of education and workforce development must be part of the path forward.
  • A national research strategy for assurance is needed.

The following recommendations presented in the report build a vision for progress around a “network of institutes on autonomy” and briefly describe possible roles for the researchers, educators, and research sponsors.

The research community can contribute by…

  • embracing the interdependency between the challenges; and
  • developing a holistic view of these interdependent challenges.

The education and workforce development community can contribute by…

  • aligning its priorities with the needs of the industry and government;
  • focusing on establishing a foundation that will enable the students to acquire interdisciplinary skills; and
  • broadening and diversifying the basis for qualified workforce in autonomy.

The envisioned network of institutes on autonomy should…

  • enable interdisciplinary collaboration beyond what is possible today, including the disciplines that are currently considered to be peripheral;
  • Increase the cultural and organizational connections between the academia, industry, and government agencies; and
  • serve as an objective source of information to the public and the policymakers.

See the full report to learn more. Thank you to everyone in the community who participated in the three workshops and provided contributions to the drafts of this report!