Peter Dömel, University of Frankfurt, Germany
Peter Dömel, the session chair, is a web developer and researcher in the field of software agents and dynamic distributed applications. He received his MS at the University of Frankfurt in October 1993 and worked there as a research fellow in the Department of Computer Science. During his time in Frankfurt he joined several external research programs with Digital Equipment Corp. concerning the development of reusable communication software and management of distributed applications. He was also involved in a project sponsored by the German Research Council (DFG) to investigate data mobility issues in future packet-switched mobile communication networks. Before returning to Frankfurt University in April 1996, he worked for one year as a software engineer at General Magic, Inc., where he helped develop the Telescript Active Web Tools which enable users to create and control Telescript agents via the WWW. Beside continuing his agent research at Frankfurt University, he is currently founding the web application development company Peter Dömel's WebAgents International.
In his concluding speech at the 4th WWW conference in Boston, Tim Berners Lee (the `father' of the web) even stated, that "agents might be the future of the web".
Some of the best experts in their field will talk about available tools and their experience. The presentations will range from a general development framework (ActiveX) over a more agent specific development platform (Telescript Active Web Tools) to more and more specific areas of concrete agent application.
"ActiveX Server Framework"
As the Web transitions from static content to dynamic content, content publishers have many options to create this content. One is to exploit the features of the various clients, and the other is to build dynamic applications on the server that are browser independant. The Microsoft ActiveX Server Framework provides the execution environment and reusable components that are required for rapid development and deployment of intelligent, dynamic, web server applications. This session will look at how content publishers can use ActiveX Server Scripting to do validation, logic flow and simple computation on the server, and how this can drive ActiveX Server Controls for compute-intensive operations, more complex functions, and binding to legacy data or applciations.
"Telescript and the Web"
The Telescript Active Web Tools from General Magic provide a powerful language and environment for creating agent-oriented Web applications. Telescript is a rich object-oriented language that abstracts away from the programmer many aspects of mobility, security and safety, object persistence, and process interaction. The Active Web Tools and Server products allow developers and Web site operators to create highly-customizable and active services. The talk will provide an overview of the technology and the products, and discuss examples of services that could take advantage of their capabilities.
"Agent Amplified Communication"
The authors describe an agent-based framework for assisting and simplifying person-to-person communication for information gathering tasks, such as locating experts for any specified topic. In their approach, the informal person-to-person networks that exist within an organization are used to ``referral chain'' requests for expertise. User-agents help automate this process. The agents generate referrals by analyzing records of e-mail communication patterns. Simulation results show that the higher responsiveness of an agent-based system can be effectively traded for the higher accuracy of a completely manual approach. Experience with users of a prototype implementation has shown that privacy concerns are central to the successful deployment of agent-based systems, and that as they become more powerful and sophisticated agents need to reason about issues involving trust and authority.
"Collaborative Information Filtering on the WWW"
The phenomenal growth of the WWW and the proliferation of content available to the on-line users has dramatically added to the problem of information overload. At the same time, an increasingly smaller fraction of the total information on the WWW is actually relevant to a particular user. As a result, the WWW is quickly becoming a space full of information, but with no particular order or sense of community. The challenge is to build systems into the WWW that help users discover, locate and navigate information in a personalized fashion as well as engendering a feeling of a shared experience.
Collaborative filtering techniques can address some of the problems currently associated with content-based approaches and recommend to users only that information that is relevant to them. Another advantage of collaborative techniques is that it enables community navigation in the same personalized fashion.
It will be discussed how collaborative filtering techniques developed by Agents, Inc. will help to standardize personalization and community on the WWW. A demonstration of the company's premiere site, Firefly (www.ffly.com), will serve as an example of truly agent-enabled sites.
"Beyond Simple Agents: A Computer Kindergarten as a Testbed of the Future"
One day the people will want to have them: computer programs which have feelings, which can learn, understand, and speak any natural language, and which will have their own will. In Frankfurt (Germany) is the Knowbotic Interface Group running a computer Kindergarten which is developing and testing such programs. Compared to the normal Artificial Intelligence or Artificial Life paradigm is the keyconcept of the knowbotic interface group the 'consciousness' understood as an interface to body structures. This allows the modelling of processes which have been impossible before.