Abstract: The concept of an agent is a
ubiquitous and powerful one in Computer Science. We employ it to talk
about and to model a wide range of things from physical robots, to
modules in client-server architectures, to human, to internet-based information
retrieval programs, to intelligent personal assistants. During the past
decade a software agents" paradigm has emerged which views agents as
autonomous, cooperating processes which use rich agent communication languages
to exchange information and knowledge and to coordinate their
activities. This has been seen as a way to capitalize on the
opportunities (and solve many of the problems) created by the revolution brought
about by the Internet and Web.
The vision has not yet materialized. Some will argue that this is yet another
example of AI hype and the general technical "irrational exuberance"
of the 90s. I'll argue that the vision is still a good one and will
describe how two new components might re-invigorate it. The first is the
semantic web -- "an extension of the current web in which information is
given well defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in
The second is development of mobile and pervasive computing environments
which provide requirements which multiagent systems are well suited to
Tim Finin is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Electrical
Engineering at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). He
has over 30 years of
experience in the applications of AI to problems in information systems,
intelligent interfaces and robotics.
He holds degrees from MIT and the University of Illinois. Prior to joining
the UMBC, he held positions at Unisys, the University of Pennsylvania, and
the MIT AI Laboratory. Finin is the author of over 150 refereed publications
and has received research grants and contracts from a variety of
sources. He has been the past program chair or general chair of several
major conferences, is a former AAAI councilor and is AAAI's representative on
the board of
directors of the Computing Research Association.