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Agents, KQML and Knowledge Sharing

December 1996

This file is a list of items added to the UMBC agents pages this month and is in maintained chronological order. Past months: December 1996, November 1996, October 1996, September 1996, August 1996, July 1996, June 1996, May 1996, April 1996, March 1996, February 1996, January 1996, December 1995, November 1995, October 1995, September 1995, August 1995 and before.

Ovum report on Intelligent Agents

Intelligent Agents: The New Revolution in Software, Christine Guilfoyle and Ellie Warner, Ovum Ltd, Published May 1994, 214 pages, US $1,880. "Intelligent agents represent the next generation beyond object-oriented software: objects that think. Intelligent agents are task-oriented software components that have the ability to act intelligently. Early users are already gaining dramatic improvements in the areas of e-mail, network management, workflow systems, user interfaces, information retrieval, and modeling/simulation."MORE. 12/28/96.

Agent projects at Recticular Syatems

Reticular Systems is a a San Diego software company specializing in intelligent systems. It has two current commercial agent-related products under development: AgentBuilder and IntellAgent as well as a number of agent-related R&D projects, including: 12/28/96

Infoworld agent stories

SRI's distributed agents promise improvements in silicon-human interface , Deborah DeVoe, InfoWorld Electric, Dec 28, 1996. "Science fiction dreams of natural interaction between computers and humans are coming closer to reality. SRI International is celebrating 50 years of "inventing in the future" by demonstrating several innovative technologies, including Open Agent Architecture (OAA), a distributed agent architecture that promises to take human/computer interaction to a new plateau." MORE .

Intelligent agents arrive to assist in better data management, Lynda Radosevich, InfoWorld Electric, Dec 28, 1996. "Intelligent agents that help users make sense of the barrage of information available to them are stepping closer to becoming a workplace tool. Vendors have unveiled scores of agent-based products that aim to help people spend less time searching for relevant information and more time putting it to use. However, several outstanding issues must be resolved before broad use of agent technologies takes off, analysts said. For example, languages are needed to enable agents to access information on servers in a common way and different vendors' agents to exchange information. Among the companies with new intelligent agent products available or on the way to market are Amulet, Firefly Network, and Verity." MORE . 12/28/96

Workshop on Constraints and Agents

A AAAI-97 workshop on Constraints and Agents will focus on research at the interface of constraint and agent technology, encompassing both the modeling of agent issues, e.g. negotiation, as constraint satisfaction and optimization problems, and the use of agents to solve constraint satisfaction and optimization problems, e.g. distributed scheduling problems. It will concern both hardware agents and software agents. It will include both applications of constraint algorithms and models, and applications of constraint languages and systems. It will address both opportunities that agents offer to apply the constraint programming paradigm, and challenges that agents present to extend the paradigm. More specific topics might include, but are not limited to: constraints for real-time control of agents, constraints as content in agent communication, statistical properties of large multiagent searches, constraint ontologies for agents, constraint-based agent specification and verification. The Workshop will combine short presentations with discussion sessions. Prospective participants should submit, appropriately labeled, either a research paper, containing unpublished research, a position paper, summarizing previously published research, or a copy of a relevant paper accepted for the main AAAI-97 conference. Submissions in the AAAI format (see should be no longer than 6 pages and submitted electronically to Logistics Chair Peggy Eaton, by March 11, 1997. 12/16/96

Searching the Web with a Data Fusion Agent

Using A Data Fusion Agent for Searching the WWW, Alan F. Smeaton and Francis Crimmins, Dublin City University, December 1996. This paper describes a meta search engine for searching the WWW. It is based upon a data fusion approach wherein a userŐs query is broadcast to 6 different WWW search engines (AltaVista, Excite, InfoSeek, Lycos, OpenText and WebCrawler) and the output from these searches is combined into a unified ranking of WWW pages. Unlike other meta search engines such as MetaCrawler, Savvy Search and ProFusion, our meta search engine is written in Java and launches a Java applet on the userŐs machine to handle the user interface, which is via a separate window from the userŐs normal WWW browser. The userŐs WWW browser is used to display individual WWW pages selected for viewing. This paper presents details of the system we have developed, concentrating on the client-server architecture for the fusion operation and outlines the extensions we plan for this work in order to deliver a WWW search agent using more sophisticated and effective information retrieval techniques than are currently available via todayŐs popular WWW search engines. 12/16/96


GROUP `97 -- International Conference on Supporting Group Work, "The Integration Challenge". November 16-19, 1997, Phoenix, Arizona USA. Papers are due May 15, 1997. GROUP `97 is interested in topics related to computer-based systems which have an impact on groups, organizations and social networks. A strong emphasis of GROUP `97 is the integration of multiple computer-based tools and technologies. Relevant issues include design, implementation, deployment, evaluation, methodologies, and effect of these systems. ... we observe a growing influence of the Internet, mobile computing, agent systems, ubiquitous computing, and virtual reality. We can expect that these new technologies will also exert a large influence on group/organizational structures and processes. These new technologies are exciting in their own right, but their technological and organizational integration to support groups raises many interesting questions and is a challenging new research agenda....Technical Track:... * Computer supported collaboration and negotiation, * Coordination and workflow technology, * Cooperative knowledge management and organizational or group memory, * New technologies for the support of groups, e.g., agent technology, ubiquitous computing, virtual reality * Social networks and virtual communities, ... 12/13/96

From Animals to Animats

From Animals to Animats 4 - Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Simulation of Adaptive Behavior, September 9th-13th, 1996, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, edited by Pattie Maes, Maja J. Mataric, Jean-Arcady Meyer, Jordan Pollack, and Stewart W. Wilson. From Animals to Animats 4 brings together the latest research at the frontier of an exciting new approach to understanding intelligence. The contributors represent a broad range of interests from artificial intelligence and robotics to ethology and the neurosciences. Unifying these approaches is the notion of "animat" - an artificial animal, either simulated by a computer or embodied in a robot, which must survive and adapt in progressively more challenging environments. The 66 contributions focus particularly on well-defined models, computer simulations, and built robots in order to help characterize and compare various principles and architectures capable of inducing adaptive behavior in real or artificial animals. Topics, all from the perspective of adaptive behavior, include: The Animat Approach to Adaptive Behavior, Perception and Motor Control, Action Selection and Behavioral Sequences, Internal World Models and Navigation, Motivation and Emotions, Learning, Evolution, Coevolution, and Collective Behavior. Complex Adaptive Systems series, A Bradford Book, October 1996, 600 pp., $65.00 paperback, ISBN 0-262-63178-4-3. MIT Press. 12/13/96


Vince Delle Donne, Daniel Gauvin and Hervé Marchal of CRIM (Computer Research center In Montreal) have developed LALO, a language and a framework for developing intelligent multiagents systems. LALO is a language which uses the Agent Oriented Programming (AOP) paradigm as defined by Yoav Shoam. In AOP, an agent is determined by it beliefs, his capabilities, and his commitments, which together comprise its mental state. AOP encourages a social view of computation in which communities of agents interact by exchanging information, sending specific requests, offering services, accepting or refusing tasks, competing with each other for a task to be accomplished or cooperating with each other. A program written in LALO is translated into C++ source code, and then may be compiled with your regular C++ compiler. The agents communicate with KQML (Knowledge Query Manipulation Language). The LALO framework is available on UNIX platforms, Windows NT and Windows 95. Send email to for more information. 12/11/96

Firefly meets Yahoo

Firefly Network Inc. and Yahoo have launched a public beta of a website recommendation service using Automated Collaborative Filtering (ACF) technology. It allows users to find websites they are likely to find of interest and to find other people who share similar interests. To access the service, go to My Yahoo and then click [Firefly/My Agent] button at the top right of the page. They say
"Out of a constantly expanding universe of information, firefly will recommend sites you'll like and connect you to people who like what you like. First you give your opinion of a range of Weqb sites, then firefly finds other people who share those interests. You can interact with these neighbors, or have firefly recommend sites based on what they and you like. It's an automated, worldwide word-of-mouth system."
Automated Collaborative Filtering is a technique for providing recommendations (or dis-recommendations) based on statistical matches of peoples' evaluations of a set of objects in some domain. It has been developed and explored at the MIT Media Lab and used in a number of recommendation systems, such as HOMR, WEBHOUND and Firefly. Typical domains might be movies, books, web pages, or TV shows. An evaluation of an object is typically a simple scalar value, such as an integer from zero to ten or a real between 0.0 and 1.0, and might represent the degree to which the person "likes" the object. An ACF system maintains a database of users and keeps records of items they have evaluated. The set evaluations a person has made form a vector and represents that person's opinions. These evaluation vectors are compared to the vectors provided by other users and people with similar opinions can be discovered. From this, one can predict the evaluations a person might make for new objects in the domain. 12/11/96


The advance program for the First International Conference on Autonomous Agents (Agents '97) is available. The conference will be held at the Marriott Hotel, Marina del Rey on February 5-8, 1997. 12/10/96

Intelligent Animated Interface Agents

There will be a workshop on Animated Interface Agents: Making them Intelligent Nagoya, Japan, August 23-25, 1997 in conjunction with IJCAI-97. Workshop attendance will be limited to maximally 40 people, persons without a submission should contact the organizers as soon as possible. Submit extended abstracts, project/demo descriptions, videos, etc by 3rd March 1997. 12/10/96

Internet Publish and Subscribe Protocol

TIBCO Inc., and more than a dozen Internet companies have endorsed a proposed new industry standard for the "push" model of information distribution over the Internet. The proposed standard, called publish and subscribe, will reduce Internet traffic and make it easier to find and receive information on-line. The companies, which include Cisco Systems, Inc., CyberCash, Informix, Infoseek, JavaSoft, Sun Microsystems, Verisign, NETCOM, and others in addition to TIBCO, announced plans, products and support for publish and subscribe. TIBCO and Cisco Systems are developing an open reference specification for publish and subscribe technology. MORE. Tibco also announced Tibnet -- a family of products for implementing publish-and-subscribe in hardware and software and based on their Information Bus® (TIB®) middleware software (e.g., Rendezvous). This supports both real-time messaging and message queueing for guaranteed delivery and it offers a tightly integrated CORBA 2.0 complient Object Request Broker. 12/10/96


MORSE is a movie recommendation system done at BT Labs, Martlesham Heath, and is funded by BT. It was done as a MSc project by Donald Fisk (currently at University of London) under the spuervision of by Dr. Andy Downton of Essex University and Brian Tester of BT.12/10/96

Jasper: Communicating Information Agents for WWW

Jasper: Communicating Information Agents for WWW, John Davies, Richard Weeks, Mike Revett, BT Laboratories, January 1996. This paper discusses a distributed system of intelligent agents for performing information tasks over the Internet WorldWideWeb (W3) on behalf of a user or community of users. We describe how agents are used to store, retrieve, summarise and inform other agents about information found on W3. Most current W3 clients (Mosaic, Netscape, and so on) provide some means of storing pages of interest to the user. Typically, this is done by allowing the user to create a (possibly hierarchical) menu of names associated with particular URLs. While useful, this quickly becomes unwieldy when a reasonably large number of W3 pages are involved. The solution we adopt to this problem is to allow the user to access information by a much richer set of meta-information than simply names assigned to particular URLs. Given the vast amount of information available on W3, it is preferable to avoid the copying of information from its original location to a local server. The local storage of only relevant meta-information also addresses this issue. The meta-information used includes automatically extracted keywords and summary, as well as the document title, universal resource locator (URL) and date and time of access. This meta-information is then used to index on the actual information when a retrieval request is made. When an agent stores a page, it will also automatically inform other users who it considers will be interested of the page's discovery via an email message. Thus Jasper is a small step towards automating the original vision for W3 as a network which supports co-operative working and the sharing of information. In addition, Jasper agents will modify a user's profile as the type of information the user is accessing changes. Pages stored in Jasper can be posted to interest groups, creating shared information resources about specific topics. 12/10/96

Software hunts and kills Net viruses

The Sunday Times (1 Dec 1996). VIRUS-KILLING computer software that uses artificial intelligence to find and destroy new viruses is to be set loose on the Internet by IBM next week. The software, originally developed to play backgammon, will spread itself through the Net over the next year, learning how to kill new strains of virus as it goes. According to Gregory Sorkin, a researcher at IBM's Watson research laboratory, the system will be far more successful than humans at fighting computer viruses. "Once it learns the viruses already out there, the system will even be able to predict what new viruses will appear, and work out ways of stopping them before they even exist," says Sorkin. The system uses temporal difference, a method which relies on the computer looking for patterns within virus software, rather than individual lines of program code. 12/9/96

NSF program in Learning and Intelligent Systems

NSF has announced an opportunity for interdisciplinary research in Learning and Intelligent Systems (LIS). Six NSF Directorates will coordinate and manage the initiative through a special Committee with an appointed Coordinator. The LIS initiative seeks to stimulate interdisciplinary research that will unify experimentally and theoretically derived concepts related to learning and intelligent systems, and that will promote the use and development of information technologies in learning across a wide variety of fields. The long-range goal ia broad and has the potential to make significant contributions toward innovative applications. The initiative focuses on fundamental scientific and technological research undertaken in the rigorous and disciplined manner characteristic of NSF supported endeavors. The initiative ultimately should have a major impact on enhancing and supporting human intellectual and creative potential. Consequently, development of new scientific knowledge on learning and intelligent systems and its creative application to education and to learning technologies are an integral part of this solicitation. 12/9/96

The Design of Intelligent Agents: a Layered Approach

The Design of Intelligent Agents: a Layered Approach, Joerg P. Mueller, Springer-Verlag, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence Volume 1177, December 1996. ISBN 3-540-62003-6. 227pp. Includes index. Price DM 48,00 softback. Intelligent agents are computer systems that can make rational decisions and act autonomously in real-time, open, multi-agent environments; agent technology has the potential to play a key role in the design and operation of complex distributed systems in the years to come. This monograph presents a comprehensive state-of-the-art survey of approaches to the design of intelligent agents. On the theoretical side, the author compiles a set of general requirements for autonomous interacting agents and provides an essential step towards understanding the principles of intelligent agents. On the practical side, the agent architecture INTERRAP is introduced; the detailed description and evaluation of the architecture is an ideal guideline and case study for software engineers and researchers who are faced with the task of building a real agent system. This book bridges the gap between theoretical foundations and practical implementations of intelligent agents. It addresses both active and novice researchers and is essential reading for anyone interested in applying this exciting new software technology. 12/9/96

Enterprise Distributed Object Computing

The First International Workshop on Enterprise Distributed Object Computing, Gold Coast, Australia, October 24-26, 1997. The topics of the Workshop include: Enterprise architectures and frameworks, ODP enterprise language and business modelling methodologies, Workflow for intra and inter-organisational applications, Trader and Intelligent Brokers, Distributed intelligent agents for enterprise systems, and The use of mobile computing in enterprise systems. Papers are due June 1, 1997. 12/9/96

Workflow and agents

Several papers relating to the use of agents for workflow were presented at CSCW and the Web, An international Workshop organized by ERCIM/W4G, Sankt Augustin, Germany, February 7-9, 1996.

Agents based Workflow: TRP Support Environment ( TSE ), Jin W. Chang and Colin T. Scott, Andersen Consulting. "... The core concept of the above TSE is based on the WWW and a distributed set of autonomous cooperative processes known as agents. These agents facilitate various parts of workflows in order to improve efficiency among participants and that of overall process. Although the original concept of an agent, "acting on behalf of someone else" is simply lost in current agent researches [1] in A.I., it is precisely this notion which TSE adopts. In other words, the agents in TSE largely act on behalf of participants, organizing their agenda, looking for important events ( such as a deliverable is complete ), and even advise necessary steps to accomplish in a given task. Although the most of workflow functionalities may be replaced with a more extensive agent server, the approach in TSE has adopted workflow for the following reasons. One is the readily available set of existing workflow tools and a coming standard from Workflow Manageme! nt Coalition. The other is by utilizing an existing workflow tool, an agent server can simply be a facilitator agent providing interfaces between agents and workflow tool. ..."

WebFlow: Coordination and Workflow on the World Wide Web, A. Grasso and D. Pagani, Rank Xerox. "... WebFlow is based on the Coordination Language Facility (CLF) developed at RXRC Grenoble (Andreoli et al.). The CLF is a process-oriented middleware that offers primitives to coordinate object-oriented software components. The CLF allows to specify coordination patterns and processes using a declarative, rules-based scripting language. A CLF coordinator enacts a process by managing the consistent negotiation among heterogeneous, distributed service objects. The coordinator engages conversations with the objects according to a specialized protocol implemented on top of multiple transport layers: Corba and HTTP...."

ILOG announces engine for C++ intelligent agents

ILOG announces the world's first dynamically adaptable engine for C++ intelligent agents. Paris -- October 30, 1996. ILOG, the world's leading provider of C++ class libraries for strategic business applications, today announced version 4.0 of ILOG Rules, its system for creating intelligent agents using high-performance telecoms, financial and help-desk applications. The new version comprises a unique feature that allows users to alter agent behaviour as their needs change, without having to write C++ code. They can simply change existing rules or add new rules while the application is running. The Rules 4.0 interpreter allows an intelligent agent to load new rules directly from text, making it easier to implement real-time filters and batch checking systems. Complex systems involving multiple ILOG Rules intelligent agents, databases and feedback loops are now practical to implement. MORE . 12/9/96

Knowledge Acquisition for Knowledge-Based Systems

The Tenth Knowledge Acquisition for Knowledge-Based Systems Workshop was held in Banff, Canada, on November 9-14, 1996. Some papers relating to agents presented at the conference were: * KAoS: An Open Agent Architecture Supporting Reuse, Interoperabiliby, and Extensibility, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, USA; * Beliefs, Intentions and DESIRE, Frances Brazier, Barbara Dunin-Keplicz, Jan Treur, Rineke Verbrugge, The Netherlands and Poland; * Compositional Modelling of Reflective Agents, Frances Brazier, Jan Treur, The Netherlands; * The Emergence of Knowledge through Modeling and Management Processes in Societies of Adaptive Agents, Brian R. Gaines, Canada; * A Methodological Proposal for Multiagent Systems Development extending CommonKADS, Carlos A. Iglesias, Mercedes Garijo, José C. Gonzàlez and Juan R. Velasco, Spain; * Software Agents Based on Formal KL-Models, Josefina Sierra Santibáñez, USA; * Using Ontologies in Multi-Agent Systems, Sabina Falasconi, Giordano Lanzola and Mario Stefanelli, Italy; * Understanding, Building, and Using Ontologies, Nicola Guarino, Italy; * Ontologies as Vehicles for Reuse: a mini-experiment, I. Laresgoiti, A. Anjewierden, A. Bernaras, J. Corera, A.Th. Schreiber and B.J. Wielinga, Spain and The Netherlands; * ONIONS Methodology and the Ontological Commitment of Medical Ontology ON8.5, Geri Steve and Aldo Gangemi, Italy; * Toward Distributed Use of Large-Scale Ontologies, Bill Swartout, Ramesh Patil, Kevin Knight and Tom Russ, USA; * Towards Principled Core Ontologies, Andre Valente and Joost Breuker, USA and the Netherlands; * The Ontolingua Server: a Tool for Collaborative Ontology Construction, Adam Farquhar, Richard Fikes and James Rice, USA; * A Networked, Open Architecture Knowledge Management System, Brian R. Gaines and Mildred L. G. Shaw, Canada; * Reuse for knowledge-based systems and CORBA components, John H. Gennari, Adam R. Stein and Mark A. Musen, USA. 12/8/96

AgentNews 1.16

UMBC AgentNews webletter 1.16, Volume 1, Number 16, December 7, 1996. 9/7/96

IBM Agent Building Environment

IBM has released a new version of their Agent Building Environment -- a toolkit for software developers that makes it easy to build an application based on agents, or to add them to an existing application. In the alpha version, the intelligent agent watches for a certain condition, decides what to do based on the rules you've given it, and triggers an action as a result. This developer kit comes with a number of pre-built parts which make it easy for you to add agent technology to applications. The "central intelligence" brain for the agent is based on reasoning engine and adapter technologies from IBM's T.J. Watson Research Lab. "Adapters" or interfaces allow the agent to interact with the rest of the world. The HTTP adapter, for instance, interfaces with the world-wide-web. The NNTP adapter interfaces with internet USENET news services, and the timer adapter allows events to be triggered based on time. You can write your own adapters, as well, and guidelines and a sample adapter are provided. Custom adapters can be written in either C++ or Java **. A simple full-screen interface is also provided to allow you to specify the rules for the agent's behavior. 12/7/96

Multimedia Agents at Ottawa

The Multimedia Information Research Laboratory (MIRL) in the Dept. of Electrical Engineering, University of Ottawa has established a new project on Intelligent Multimedia Agents and their Application to Digital News and Distance Learning Paradigms. The objective of this work is to develop intelligent personal agents for the delivery of multimedia documents over heteregeneous networks to heteregeneous devices (including cellular phones, graphical workstations, laptops, etc.). The intent is to develop and spin off technology that supports multimedia content for mobile workers. This project aims to define and implement lightweight personal agents that work in off-the-shelf computing environments (such as Lotus Notes or the WWW) and mediate between devices on heteregeneous networks be they ATM, wireless telephone or traditional LANs. It will introduce device agents that can cooperate with personal agents to deliver multi-modal (fax, e-mail, voice mail) multimedia (text, voice, video) messages. It will require the definition of a new approach to multimedia document content so that the content may be tailored to the terminating device. Some recent publications include: Mobile Agents for Creating Active News Documentaries, B.Falchuk, A.Karmouch, submitted to ACM Trans. on Information Systems, 1996; and A Multimedia Agent in a Distributed Broadband Environmentm B. Kwan, A.Karmouch, in Proceedings of ICC'96, Dallas, June 1996. 12/7/96
Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World, Kevin Kelly, Addison-Wesley, June 1994, 520 pages, ISDN 0201483408. This book describes how technology is becoming biological, decentralized and distributed. Order from amazon. Synopsis: In a book about the marriage of the born and the made--the biologicalization of everything from computers to government--the executive editor of Wired chronicles the dawn of a new era in which the machines and systems that dri ve our economy are so complex and autonomous as to be indistinguishable from living things. The author,, 05/24/96: Why you should read this book This is a book about how our manufactured world has become so complex that the only way to create yet more complex things is by using the principles of biology. This means decentralized, bottom up control, evolutionary advances and error-honoring institutions. I also get into the new laws of wealth in a network-based economy, what the Biosphere 2 project in Arizona has or has not to teach us, and whether large systems can predict or be predicted. And more: restoration biology, encryption, a-life, and the lessons of hypertext. Yes, it's a romp, in 520 pages. But the best part, my friends tell me, is the 28-page annotated bibliography. If you have suspected that technology could be better, more life-like, then this book is for you. 12/6/96

Cool your Jets or face a tragedy of the web commons

Web accelerators -- agents which help web surfers by pre-fetching documents linked to the current page in a browser -- are raising concerns among some webmasters. Peak Technologies' Net.Jet, for example, has run into criticism for overloading servers with too many requests for data and has been banned from several sites. See Accelerators cause headaches, Jeff Pelline, c|net, December 5, 1996 for more information. 12/5/96

Autonomy Agentware

Autonomy is a new company founded to exploit recent advances in research in the area of intelligent agents. Autonomy's staff are taken from researchers from Cambridge University who are experts in the fields of pattern recognition and neural networks and are responsible for the development of the pattern based concept matches at the heart of Autonomy. Autonomy raised a valuation of $45m to allow it to fully exploit this strategic technology advance and has opened offices in Cambridge, UK; New York, US and Palo Alto, US. Their current product is Agentware a software suite for PCs that can gather information on the Internet. It includes modules to perform automatic browsing; edit your personal paper; find relevant documents from a local library; and meet others on-line with similar interests. A Pro version will become available later in 1997 and will include two extra modules: Mail Agent:E-mails prioritized by agents and Archive Agent: Search newspaper archives with agents. 12/5/96

UNICOM agent-related seminars

UNICOM is sponsoring two agent seminars in London next March: (1) 17 March 1997 - Agent Theory and IUI Tutorial - led by Pattie Maes, MIT Media Lab & Jim Alty., Loughborough Univ.; and (2) 18 March 1997 - Working with Agents - Speakers include: Christine Guilfoyle, The Trefoyle Partnership; Dieter Wenger, Swiss Bank; Mike Wooldridge, Mitsubishi Electrical Digital Library. 12/5/96


Daniel Weld and Oren Etzioni of the University of Washington have helped to found NETbot as a venture-backed, development-stage Internet software company. NETbot will develope advanced agent technologies focused on "data disaggregation problems" on the Internet. NETbot hopes to satisfy the "expanding need for software tools which will find, collect, and collate data from a wide variety of sources for the non-technical user." Core technology themes are providing meta-level services on top of existing applications lightweight design; and practicality. NETbot applications inhabit a space "above" other applications such as text indices in that they aggregate, collate, and display data generated by other lower-level applications. NETbot applications are lightweight: they employ powerful artificial intelligence techniques with code optimized for small footprint and quick operation. Initial demonstrations of their technologyt include the MetaCrawler search tool and the Ahoy home page finder. 12/5/96

More agents in Microsofts future?

Smarter Computers Ahead, from Edupage, 3 December 1996. "Microsoft CEO Bill Gates sees much smarter computers on the road ahead: "If a human assistant works for you over a period of years, your efficiency in working with him gets dramatically better and he can anticipate your interests and you can use shorthand ways of communicating. With a computer today, even if you use it for a couple of years, you are basically working with it the exact same way. It's not learning in the way a human assistant would. On the simplest level, the next generation of computers would learn the kind of information you like to see. They're going to know how you are reacting to things, and essentially put together, for example, the kind of newspaper that meets your interests." (Investor's Business Daily 3 Dec 96 A8)". 12/5/96

Prolog in Java

People building agents in Java may find these two Prolog interpreters written in Java of interest. W-Prolog is a simple interpreter for a pure subset of Prolog which runs as an applet or as a stand-alone application. jProlog is an interpreter by Paul Tarau and Bart Demoen which uses a compiler to produce faster code. It is close to Clocksin-Mellish Prolog, with lots of the typical builtins. You need a Prolog system (e.g., SICStus, BinProlog, BIMprolog) to get it to work. 12/2/96

a "bolt-on brain" software package ?!?

AI Technology Watches What You Read, Sells Accordingly by James Glave, Wired News, 2 Dec 96. "Artificial Intelligence technology currently used to flag suspected credit-card fraud will now be brought to bear on the Net's ongoing commercial quest: targeted advertising. On Tuesday, Aptex, a San Diego company, will release SelectCast for Ad Servers, a "bolt-on brain" software package designed to work with advertising servers on high-traffic Web sites. SelectCast will monitor a user's surfing behavior across a particular Web site over time, build a user profile, then serve banners compatible with that profile. The software will "mine content" in that it will passively monitor what the user reads, then build a psychographic profile based on keywords and concepts occurring throughout that content. The confidential profiles reside on the specific Web server and are accessed and updated each time a user visits the site with help from their magic tracking cookie." ...more... 12/2/96

Agents applied to telecommunications

Broadcom (Kimsac, Hybrid projects), Trinity College, Telecom Eireann and Ericsson have established a collaboration to investigate intelligent agents applied to telecommunications problems. The group maintains an INTELLIGENT AGENT page is at

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