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An agent can be defined as one that acts or exerts power. An IntelligentAgent is an agent that has the capability to deal with new and trying situations. IntelligentAgents must have autonomous and rational properties. [1]

There are examples of IntelligentAgents, such as the price-finder of Best Book Buys [2] or the suggestion aspects of Amazon or BN.com, but since they are reactive and not proactive, I don't think they can be considered autonomous, and thus not IntelligentAgents. Perhaps StupidAgents, but that's fine with me. Some of my best agents are stupid. --DaveJacoby

There was a large sect of philosophy and psychology earlier this century (cf. B. F. Skinner) that believed that minds are purely reactive (well, stimulus-reaction-reinforcement). Nowadays, I don't think anyone believes them.

Here's a paper discussing what is and isn't an agent, as defined by ArtificialIntelligence.


In reading the above paper, I find a comment about anthropomorphism that defines an agent [3] (Dictionary:anthropomorphism), and takes as a counterexample of an agent a predicting mail-sorter that decides what to throw away by what you do as a non-agent. Since e-mail sorting is pretty much my definitional StupidAgent, I present that we can separate computer-aided agentry into two groups, FunctionalAgents and ConversationalAgent?s. Of course they get defined there, should they get defined, but in a nutshell, a FunctionalAgent is an agent that does a function. A ConversationalAgent? would be one where rich interaction is required. A MUD bot (such as Julia in the paper) or something like Eliza++, taking computerized rogerian therapy one step further, would be considered a ConversationalAgent?. Similarly, an ExpertSystem? uses ArtificialIntelligence techniques to present information and insight to someone, but except for in Star Trek: Voyager, you can't wire an ExpertSystem? up to be an expert. --DaveJacoby

I suppose with BayeanFiltering?, e-mail sorting has left the field of being totally a StupidAgent thing. Well, yes and no. There's still whitelists -- "Mail from my friends gets through, no matter what SpamAssassin? says!" -- but Paul Graham's Answer for Spam [4] has opened the subject up. But again, only kinda. Once you have decided "Yay! This is real mail!" I still don't see anything non-manual about sorting. Except that Gmail has email search. -- DaveJacoby



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