The University of Southampton

Agent technologies will boost business efficiency

Published: 
29 September 2004
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The use of agent-based computing systems can result in significant business savings, according to speakers at this year’s Agent Technology Conference (ATC).

The conference, which takes place in Zurich on Friday 1 October, will bring together world-leading agent technology experts and representatives from traditional industries to report on how they are using autonomous computer agents to perform functions in the workplace.

This year’s ATC will feature invited presentations from IT organizations and research centres, including Whitestein Technologies AG, CapGemini, Magenta Technology, Microsoft and Fujitsu. The conference is co-ordinated by the Universities of Southampton and Liverpool.

Speakers will raise awareness of how agent-based technologies can contribute to better businesses, allowing users to make real savings, particularly in the creation of virtual organizations, and in the manufacturing field where automated robots are becoming more commonplace.

The conference will also address some of the challenges which lie ahead. According to Professor Michael Luck from the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton and a member of the ATC Executive Committee, one of the main issues to be addressed is that of the changing nature of agent-based systems.

‘We are beginning to witness a change from closed systems to more open systems,’ he says, ‘such as agents bidding in auctions in the marketplace. As systems become more open, they will need to be developed further to allow smooth interaction and communication between agents.’

Professor Luck also believes that collaboration between agents, particularly in open systems, will only succeed if there is trust. In order for this to happen, a user must have confidence that an agent which represents them in an open system will work effectively on their behalf and be secure and tamper-proof. Further work is needed to ensure that this is the case.

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