Saturday, March 13, 2010

Updated State of the Art for Software Agent Technology

I just updated my web page for State of the Art for Software Agent Technology. I originally wrote it in 2004 and the world has changed a bit since then. Alas, I do not have a lot of great progress to report. As I wrote in this year's update:

The technology sector has evolved significantly since I originally wrote this page in 2004, but software agent technology has stagnated somewhat, at least from a commercial perspective. Research continues, but the great hopes for software agent technology, including my own, have been deferred.

For example, the European Commission AgentLink initiative published its Agent Technology Roadmap in 2004 and an update in 2005, but there have not been any updates in the five years since then.

A lot of the effort in software agents field was simply redirected to the Semantic Web, Web Services, and plug-ins for Web browsers and Web servers. Rather than seeing dramatic advances in intelligent agents, we have seen incremental improvements in relatively dumb but smart features embedded in non-autonomous Web software such as browsers and server software.

Again, there has been a lot of progress, but no where near enough to say "Wow! Look at this!"

My real bottom line is simply that a lot more research is needed:

I hate to say it, but for now the field of software agents remains primarily in the research labs and the heads of those envisioning its future. There have been many research projects and many of them have made great progress, but the number of successful commercial ventures is still quite limited (effectively nonexistent.) There are still many issues and unsolved problems for which additional research is needed.

Nonetheless, I do remain hopeful and quite confident that software agent technology will in fact be the wave of the future, at some point, just not yet or any time soon.

-- Jack Krupansky