Background: The 4th Industrial Revolution and emerging Societal Automation initiatives deeply rooted in advances in Electronics, Communication, and Computer Science has been heralded by numerous visionary initiatives sponsored and advanced by industry, private consortia, and governments alike, all over the industrialized world – to mention smart factories, smart grid, smart homes, smart buildings, smart highways, smart transportation systems, urban automation, ... . The household names of the Internet of Things and Cyber-Physical Systems provide conceptual and architectural frameworks as well as a technical infrastructure, though limited, for those initiatives.
The functional and technical scope of those initiatives is broad. Various application domains intersect at the crossroads of the initiatives. Vision is necessary to carve the image of the initiatives, but insufficient for their realization. At the root of the success in implementing and deploying visions is technology. Technology is a tangible “realization” of solutions, which arise from innovative thinking. Specific technological solutions and arising engineering infrastructure to be blended around the adopted architectural framework need sophisticated software tools underpinned by solid formal methodologies to assist in and guide through the design, validation, testing, deployment, and monitoring phases of the system life-cycle.
Technology and arising solutions are fast penetrating practically all areas and facets of our life; from pocket and wearable automation, to robotic companions, to home and building automation, to energy and transportation systems, to city/urban automation. In future: space colonies. Societal Automation, as this rapidly expanding human-centered technology penetration of our life can be called, has many aims: to make human-made engineering systems intuitive and safe in use; to strive to improve quality of our life; to provide comfortable and safe living habitat without degrading the surrounding natural environment; to observe our privacy, body and psychological integrity to mention some – in addition to fulfilling other geo-engineering requirements and societal needs.
The first in the series conference on Societal Automation will attempt to look in a holistic way at the Societal Automation domain in order to try to determine what solutions, technologies, architectural frameworks, and design tools are going to be needed in the design, development and deployment of future human-centered life-quality improving solutions and systems, as well as (ultra) complex engineering systems to provide us with a living habitat and supporting infrastructure. The most crucial, however, are the expectations of us, individuals without major say in the Societal Automation evolution to ensure the developments serve our interest and do not threaten our privacy, body and psychological integrity, and safety in general.