“Intelligent agents” put intelligence in artificial intelligence

Expect “intelligent agents” – artificial intelligence (AI) systems equipped with their own sets of beliefs and life goals – to be increasingly present in fields as diverse as logistics, manufacturing, entertainment, gaming and defense.

This is the message of Dr. John Thangarajah, veteran AI expert and researcher at RMIT. According to Dr. Thangarajah, while artificial intelligence has been in use for some time, an increasing number of application areas now require software components with more sophisticated intelligence – intelligent agents.

“Intelligent agent technology is a special way of developing software [that] has been used to develop software systems in a variety of application areas, including logistics, crisis management, holonic [flexible] manufacturing, business process management and unmanned aerial vehicles,” he told ZDNet.

“These applications often require autonomous software components, in the sense that they can accomplish tasks by making intelligent and rational decisions where needed without human intervention.”

Dr Thangarajah said an intelligent agent approach to software development differs from traditional approaches to AI development in that systems are designed and structured in terms of “mental attitudes” – variables such as beliefs, goals, intentions and commitments – rather than “object oriented”. “methods.

“Using such mental attitudes in software design allows developers to break down complex decisions into smaller, more intuitive pieces, and thus build systems with the appropriate behavior,” he said.

“System designs with these concepts are more easily absorbed and understood by industry experts who are not necessarily software programmers, which makes them even more desirable.”

It is precisely these attributes that have made intelligent agent technology attractive to everyone, from game developers developing intelligent role-playing games to call centers for automated customer service, and now to the Australian Science and Technology Organization. Defense (DSTO).

The defense agency has enlisted the group of agents from RMIT’s School of Computing, of which Dr Thangarajah is a member, to help build its new maritime domain tactical simulation platform.

The scenario-based platform will use intelligent agent technology to help model the tactical behaviors of Australia’s submarine fleet in a range of underwater missions and situations.

RMIT’s work with the DSTO, which is funded by a AU$135,000 grant from the agency, highlights the quality of work on intelligent agents being carried out in Australia by universities such as RMIT, the University of Melbourne and Swinburne, and companies such as Agent-Based Software and RealThing, according to Dr Thangarajah.

“A number of Australian IT companies are either developers or users of agent technologies, and Melbourne in particular is an internationally recognized center for agent research and development,” he said.

James G. Williams