Wednesday, November 19, 2008

(Software) Agents and the Semantic Web

I thought about why the concept of Agent has not taken off, why people/companies do not use them as widely as they use other technologies. Two reasons came in mind.

First, there is the security issue. How does one know that the software agent has not been tampered with, or that the information it caries is secure enough, or that other agents it meets are "good" agents, not "bad" ones. Since the concept of agent has to include the property of being autonomous, how can we restrict the agent in its actions and decisions without greatly reducing his autonomy?

Second, the job of an (software) agent is to talk to other systems, interpret and gather data, make decisions on that data, and present it back to the user in a readable and useful way.

While the first reason might have been already overcome, the second has not. In my opinion, to overcome this, one has to use the Semantic Web. If you add meaning to data, agents can interpret it and make proper decisions, without having to ask the user for guidance at every step (thus loosing its effectiveness, and some of the main properties it's supposed to posses, like being autonomous) . I am sure this is not an novel idea, and that people have already thought about it, but for me it makes sense. I envision an "Agent Store", or "Agent Market", where people would go and "rent" or "buy" agents to fulfill their immediate or long time needs, such as paying all utilities (power, phone, internet, cable, credit cards, etc), or scheduling a doctor appointment, etc.
Wouldn't this be nice?

No comments: