The relations among the various components (physical and behavioural) of a Symbiotic Autonomous System are perceived by the context as its emergent properties. Interaction with other systems and with the environment takes place through these emergent properties, since they are characterising the SAS.
An emergent property is a property that the system has as a whole, but none of its component possess. Hence the decision making happens at the whole system level and there is no specific component in the system in charge for it.
This happens normally in (insects) swarms where decisions emerge out of the collective behaviour of the swarm and there is no individual component in charge.
A set of autonomous flying drones can in principle be programmed with a central “intelligence/command”, creating a hierarchy, or it can be programmed with a set of rules that results in emergent decisions. This latter approach has more resiliency, since there is no “commander” whose loss would hamper the swarm activities. Internet is an example of a massive distributed control for packets routing leading to an extremely resilient system from the point of view of end to end connectivity. At the very beginning of the Internet routing strategies like the “hot potato routing” where studied and implemented to ensure a high reliability of networks connectivity. This has evolved in other variant, like the “cold” and “mash” potato routing, specifically designed for autonomous systems.
5G at the edges may also be engineered as a swarm like infrastructure where the connectivity (at the logical level – data transfer) is managed in a collective way with no single entity in charge for routing.
Massively distributed IoT may be engineered to form a “swarm” and to have the swarm as a whole in charge for taking decisions.
Autonomous systems operating in a symbiotic relation (like micro-bots embedded in a living being) will need to make decisions in absence of a coordinator, using a completely flat hierarchy, and the decision making process will be an emergent property of the symbioses.
Studies of Nature where these emergent properties are usual, like in bees swarms, starlings flocks, and even brain decision making processes are leading to an understanding of basic rules that can be coded into single autonomous systems and their components to give rise to “intelligent” decision making processes.