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Responsible agent behavior: a distributed computing perspective

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2 Author(s)
E. Mamdani ; Imperial Coll. of Sci., Technol. & Med., London, UK ; J. Pitt

Software agents that are autonomous, communicative, and possibly intelligent processes raise new questions for developers of distributed systems. Specifically, what is responsible agent behavior, and who, as the owner, is legally responsible for it? The answers involve an understanding of human-agent interaction, agent-oriented middleware, and social behavior. Some software agents will have a sufficiently large number of internal states to be capable of seemingly intelligent behavior. Hence, an agent's future external behavior cannot be guaranteed on the basis of its past behavior, even if that behavior has been monitored over time. Complete compliance tests of intelligent agents, therefore, may not be achievable because of the (possibly) large number of internal states. Thus, the best we can say is that an agent has not exhibited noncompliant behavior yet. Communication between agents implies a contract between owners, and the complexity of agents implies possibly unpredictable behavior. Therefore, an appropriate legal framework is required to underwrite the consequences of communicative actions and to provide safeguards against unlawful activities. The legal implications of agent technology require new ways of thinking about working with an agent, new requirements for agent-oriented middleware, and additional types of social behavior to be considered when designing a multiagent system

Published in:

IEEE Internet Computing  (Volume:4 ,  Issue: 5 )