Next: Agents and appropriation

What's an Agent, Anyway? A Sociological Case Study


The term `agent' has been picked up, widely appropriated, and in many cases misappropriated, by technical publications, lay publications, and many researchers in computer science. I examine some of the appropriations and misappropriations, talk about their reasons and implications, and delve into a case study of an agent that is used to illustratively define what I consider an agent to be, and why many of the current uses of the term are misleading. The agent I consider is Julia, a TinyMUD robot of the Maas-Neotek family, all of whom have been in almost constant use at several sites on the Internet for the last two or three years. I also speak at length about the sociology of such agents, what we might expect to find in the future, and why sociology is such an important aspect to consider when investigating agent-oriented programming.

Lenny Foner