Mark Cornwell is interested in developing a "policy-aware" web. Organizations of people are able to coordinate their activities and cooperate by adapting to policies that govern their actions. When policies change, the community adapts and evolves. Software programs are not so adaptable as human organizations. Hard-wired behaviors perdominiate.
In "policy-aware" software entities would adapt behavior to comply with policies governing their behavior. They would include the capability to reason over policy and determine how to modify their behavior to comply with policy.
The framework for the expression of policy and reasoning about it would be the mechanisms of the Semantic Web.
Some of the challenges:
* Policies tend to be context specific * Policies often depend on the semantics of the data * Policies come from a variety of sources * Policies may conflict * Policies may include ad-hoc rule * Policies must adapt to changing real-world situtations
To make all this more concrete consider this. Would you post your home address, checking account number SSN, and credit card numbers up on a web site? Certainly not! Why? Well, you can't trust the web site to manage this stuff in keeping with your wishes.
But what if you could? What if the web could be trusted? What if the technical means existed to provide you with a perfectly trustworty automated private secretary that could manage your affairs using this information?
The world would be a different place. So how do we get to that place? That is the challenge.