What is an autonomous "intelligent" agent?

In this post, some definitions and examples are given. This is an introductory text.

First of all there is a need to explain why "intelligent" is in braces in the title. Well, it's simple: whatever the agents are at the moment of writing, they are just specific, narrow algorithms with no signs of intelligence. As soon as I come across the evidence of the contrary, I will happily remove the braces around "intelligent". But for now - braces stay.

What is an agent? According to the numerous sources I checked, agent is an entity with some characteristic features. These fundamental features are:

  • agent acts on behalf of others. For example, you may hire a person who would attend parents' meetings at the school of your children: in this case, that would be a "parental agent" :) , who comes to the meetings on your behalf.
  • agents are to some extent autonomous (i.e., enjoy some degree of autonomy). In our example, the "parental agent" has freedom to act and respond the way he feels appropriate in his communication with other parents at the meeting; but at the same time he must follow the behaviour strategy you outlined for the official messages announced by the school staff.
  • agents are proactive and reactive. Proactive means that agent may exhibit his own independent initiative, which is not (at least directly) related to the delegated tasks of the agent. Reactive tells us that agents will respond to stimuli - e.g., given a task, agent will try to do that task.
  • agents are able to learn - that is, they have memory, which influences their further actions.
  • agents may be cooperative - help each other or just join efforts to complete given tasks.
  • agents are mobile.
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