Monday, December 22, 2008

Software agent technology questions

I still consider software agents to be a deep research field that is still not ripe for wide-scale commercialization with ease and at low cost. Many research questions remain wholly or at least partially unanswered. I have published a Web page with a preliminary list of software agent technology questions. At this stage, I am less interested in the actual answers than in refining the questions themselves. Hopefully the questions will suggest areas of inquiry to others.

I will update the list of software agent technology questions on occasion, but updates will appear in this blog as well.

Here is the current list of questions:

  1. How intelligent do agents need to be?
  2. How do we measure agent intelligence?
  3. How dumb can an agent be and still be considered an agent?
  4. How autonomous do agents need to be?
  5. How do we measure agent autonomy?
  6. How can we detect the existence of an agent?
  7. Can we determine the intentions of an agent?
  8. Can we determine the beliefs of an agent?
  9. Can we detect the desires of an agent?
  10. What is the identity of an agent?
  11. How can we determine the identity of an agent?
  12. Can an agent really distinguish the real and cyber worlds?
  13. How can we trust an agent with money?
  14. What does it mean to clone an agent and what are its effects?
  15. What is a rogue agent?
  16. How can we detect rogue agents?
  17. What states can an agent be in?
  18. What responsibilities can an agent have?
  19. Can an agent really be trusted?
  20. How can we tell what ways an agent can be trusted?
  21. Who owns agents?
  22. Does every agent need to have an owner?
  23. Are agents owned in a legal sense?
  24. What laws and regulations govern the behavior of agents?
  25. In what ways can agents be controlled?
  26. Who can control agents?
  27. What infrastructure is needed to support agents?
  28. Can agents store state?
  29. How can agents store and restore state?
  30. Can agents spend money?
  31. Can agents earn money?
  32. Can agents transfer money?
  33. Can agents engage in business transactions?
  34. Can an agent have power of attorney?
  35. Can an agent be a legal entity?
  36. Can an agent represent a legal entity?
  37. Does an agent have any rights?
  38. Aren't all computer programs agents?
  39. Isn't an agent still a computer program?
  40. Can a software entity be an agent and not be a computer program?
  41. In what ways can agents interact with each other?
  42. Can any entity tell if the entity it is interacting with is an agent?
  43. What is the role of strategy in agent behavior?
  44. Can we tell if an entity is an agent from its behavior?
  45. How can we tell what an agent is doing?
  46. How can we tell if an agent is doing what we expect it to do?
  47. How can we express our expectations so that a monitor can detect when expectations are or are not being met or in the process of being met?
  48. What level of Semantic Web structure is best for agents?
  49. What level of network connectivity is best for agents?
  50. What level of server architecture is best for agents?
  51. What level of cloud computing is best for agents?
  52. How can agents best discover resources, services, and other agents?
  53. What programming language constructs are best for agents?
  54. How can agents be re-programmed or re-targeted or re-missioned on the fly, dynamically?
  55. How can agents work in a swarm to meet large-scale goals?
  56. How can large-scale goals be specified?

-- Jack Krupansky

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