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The term ``agent'' is used increasingly in the
literature and means very different things to different people. We view agents
as pieces of code that undertake tasks on behalf of a user of the system.
Agents might be classified based upon the sophistication of the service
provided. We believe that 5 levels may be a more appropriate classing for the
kinds of tasks we have in mind.
- Executive agents would be responsible for contributing planning
level skills involving the entire group, or subgroups-- for example, an agent
that enforced Robert's rules of order on a meeting might operate at this level.
- Collaborative agents would be responsible for independent
action and direct contribution where the action involved more than one
individual--for example, an agent entrusted with setting up a meeting that
included as many of the important actors as possible would be of the is class.
- Contributory agents would be responsible for direct
contribution to action where the action involves only a single individual--for
example, an agent that reviewed comments and presented a classified list
grouping comments into ``substantive arguments'', ``references and examples'',
and ``grammatical corrections'' would be of this class.
- Communications agents would be responsible for managing
communications-- for example, mailing materials to a group, or coordinating
responses to a ballot.
- Service agents would be responsible for providing low level
services to individuals or system components. The nature of these tasks is
such that they are universal and generally trusted--for example, logging and
reporting activity, managing directory information , etc.
Mon Dec 16 14:39:59 EST 1996