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Coordinating Distributed Speaking Objects
Marco Lippi, Marco Mamei, Stefano Mariani and Franco Zambonelli
DISMI – Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, DISMI – Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, DISMI – Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, DISMI – Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia

In this paper we sketch a vision of future environments densely populated by smart sensors and actuators possibly embedded in everyday objects that, rather than simply producing streams of data, are capable of understanding and reporting, via factual assertions and arguments, about what is happening (for sensors) and about what they can make possibly happen (for actuators). These speaking objects form the nodes of a dense distributed computing infrastructure that can be exploited to monitor and control activities in our everyday environment. However, the nature of speaking objects will dramatically change the approaches to implementing and coordinating the activities of distributed processes. In fact, distributed coordination is likely to become associated with the capability of argumenting about situations and about the current state of the affairs, with the aim of triggering and directing proper distributed conversations to collectively reach a future desirable state of the affairs. In this paper we discuss how such a novel vision can build upon some readily available technologies, and we highlight the research challenges that it poses. Two case studies are used throughout the paper as exemplary scenarios.