AGENTS Heather Nodler INF 385Q - Knowledge Management Systems Dr. Don Turnbull April 26, 2005 Definition Agents - Autonomous software processes that interact with users and with each other according to certain conventions - Assist users with information gathering and other processes - Sometimes called “bots” Why Agents? In the Internet age, agents help users cope with ever-increasing amounts of information and work. Some Requirements Technical • Processes must flow smoothly and accurately Social • Users need sense of control • Users’ privacy must be maintained • Users must be able to see/change actions taken by agents How Agents Work Knowledge-based - Interface agent endowed with knowledge of a specific application and a specific user or set of users Learning - Autonomous agent performs tasks like a personal assistant, learning user’s behavior through observation and communication with other agents Agents That Learn Advantages • Require minimum background knowledge • Program themselves, are more dynamic • Increase in reliability over time, gain user trust • Can get help from other agents to deal with specific user tasks • Assist in transfer of knowledge among users in a group Agents That Learn Disadvantages • Use of application requires a good deal of repetitive behavior • Can create privacy issues, especially when agents share info with each other • Lack subtlety of human judgement/behavior • Agents can exhibit imperfect behavior, especially early on • Users might have overblown expectations • “Cold start” problem Examples of Learning Agents • • • • • • E-mail handling applications Meeting scheduling agents Electronic news filtering agents Entertainment recommender systems Online dating systems Other applications The Easy Bee Agent Utopia • Will serve as social equalizers, giving full support staff to people who couldn’t afford it otherwise • Will make our lives easier • Will grow smarter, more effective, and will be entrusted with more critical information • Everything will be transparent Agent Dystopia • Will create conflicts/confusion • Will invade users’ privacy • Will allow more code-savvy users to deceive/take advantage of others • Will take the human element out of processes that benefit from some error (e.g., markets) • Will create overstandardization Questions for Discussion • To what extent do you use/trust agents now? Examples? • What will agents of the future do? • How can agents be applied in KM? • Are some some things too important to be entrusted to agents?