Saturday, March 31, 2012

The agent server, a place for agents to live

When Semantic Web pioneer Prof. James Hendler famously asked "Where are all the Intelligent Agents?" five years ago, the response was mixed and I would say rather muddled. Basically the answer was that we are making progress, but we are far from being "there" yet. Now, five years later, I have some running code as the beginnings of a better answer: agents need a special kind of operational environment in order to flourish; they need an agent server, which is what I am now working on. Five years ago I suggested that software agents needed a rich semantic infrastructure in order to flourish. My initial cut at an agent server is certainly not as semantically rich as I suggested, but I have made it a lot easier to develop and deploy relatively simple software agents, which is the first required step.
As rudimentary as it is, my Stage 0 Agent Server makes it dirt-simple to construct and deploy agents that periodically read data from HTML web pages, XML files, text files, JSON REST APIs, and the outputs of other agents, etc. The agents are long-lived and their state is persistent, even if the server must be shutdown and rebooted, all with zero effort on the part of the developer.
It is certainly not ready for prime time, but is definitely a candidate for giving agents a place to live.


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