Intelligent Agents are software abstractions which potentially can make life easier and more productive for computer users. These agents are autonomous entities that can be asked to do tedious or complicated tasks for the user or unscramble the complexities of computer applications. "Many agents are based on the idea that the user need only specify a high-level goal instead of issuing explicit instructions, leaving the 'how' and 'when' decisions to the agent" 3. The agent either steps the user through the process at hand or goes off on its own and reports back with the requested information or completed task. Artificial Intelligence principles are used to program these agents.
The modern computer era has brought with it a phenomenal volume of information. The internet in particular is comprised of far too much information for any one person to utilize. Therefore computer users must be able to use their time efficiently. One must be able to filter through all the information bringing back only pertinent, recent data quickly and easily. Also, as applications and hardware become more powerful and complicated, the user must be able to figure out how to master new tasks. These two challenges can be made easier with the use of intelligent agents. One example would be the following: A person wants to find a job in the computer industry as a programmer and decides to search the internet for available positions. Without the use of intelligent agents, the person would spend hours searching for every position having to do with computers and programming. A search query would return thousands upon thousands of links that would have to be weeded through to find the ones that were pertinent. An ...
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...be expertly guided through complicated procedures by these agents.
6 Maes, P. (1994b). Social interface agents: Acquiring competence by learning from users and other agents. In Etzioni, O., editor, Software Agents - Papers from the 1994 Spring Symposium (Technical Report SS-94-03), pages 71-78. AAAI Press.
7 Newell, A. and Simon, H. A. (1976). Computer science as empirical enquiry. Communications of the ACM, 19:113-126.
8 Shoham, Y. (1990). Agent-oriented programming. Technical Report STAN-CS-1335-90, Computer Science Department, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305