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Ph.Lic. Heimo Laamanen defends his doctoral thesis “Epistemological Approach to Dependability of Intelligent Distributed Systems” on Friday the 26th of June 2020 at 12 o’clock. His opponent is Professor Erkki Sutinen (University of Turku, Winhoek, Namibia) and custos Professor Jussi Kangasharju (University of Helsinki). The defence will be held in English.



Recent and expected future developments in the domains of artificial intelligence, intelligent software agents, and robotics will create a new kind of environment where artificial entities and human beings seamlessly operate together to offer services. The users of these services may not necessary know whether the service is actually offered by a human being or an artificial entity. This kind of environment raises a requirement for using a joint terminology between human beings and artificial entities, especially in the domain of the epistemic quality of information. The epistemic quality of information will play an important role in this kind of intelligent distributed systems. One of the main reasons is that it affects the dependability of those systems.

Epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief including their nature, sources, limits, and forms. Human beings have been interested in epistemology since the times of ancient Greece, as knowledge is seen to be an important factor of human beings’ actions and success in the actions. We are of the opinion that the scene of epistemology is changing more than ever before: artificial intelligence has entered into the domain. In this thesis we argue that first, an intelligent software entity is capable of having beliefs and second, both knowledge and justified belief will be important factors in the dependability of AI-based agents’ actions and success in the actions.

We carry out a theoretical analysis of the epistemological concepts – belief, justified belief, and knowledge – for the context of intelligent software agents and dependable intelligent distributed systems. We introduce enhanced definitions of justified belief and knowledge, which we call Pragmatic Process Reliabilism. These definitions can be adopted into dependable intelligent distributed systems.

We enhance the dependability taxonomy in order to cope better with the situations created by learning and the variation of the epistemic quality of information. The enhancements comprise the following concepts: attributes (skillfulness, truthfulness, and serveability), fault classes (training fault and learning fault), failure (action failure and observed failure), and means (relearning and retraining).

We develop a theoretical framework (Belief Description Framework – BDF) to perceive, process, and distribute information in order to verify that our ideas can be implemented. We model the framework using Unified Modelling Language in order to demonstrate its applicability for implementation. First, we define relationships between epistemological concepts and software entities (classes). Second, we show that information, belief, justified belief, and knowledge can be specified as classes and instantiated as objects. The Information class defines the environment – a kind of information ecosystem – of information. It is the central point. It has relationships with other classes: Proposition, Presentation, EpistemicQuality, Warrant, Security, Context, and ActorOnInformation. Third, we specify some important requirements for BDF. Fourth, we show by modelling BDF using the UML modelling method that BDF can be specified and implemented.