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Intelligent agent

What is an Intelligent Agent?

Similar to an Intelligent system, an Intelligent Agent is a program that has a mind that is capable of choice. It can be confronted with a problem, and act with purpose to solve it. It can mentally figure out how to solve a problem before taking any action. Intelligent Agents have a range of competing possibilities to choose from when solving a problem. This allows them to generate complex scenarios that are specified to solve a problem.


What are the characteristics of an Intelligent Agent?

According to Wikipedia, an Intelligent Agent should include the following:

  • Accommodate new problem solving rules incrementally
  • Adapt online and in real time
  • Be able to analyze itself in terms of behavior, error, and success
  • Learn to improve through interaction with environment
  • Learn quickly from large amounts of data
  • Have memory-based storage and retrieval capacities
  • Have parameters to represent short and long-term memory, age, forgetting, etc


There are so many different Intelligent Agents out there, but they can be grouped into five categories based on their degree of perceived intelligence and capability. These categories are:


  1. Simple reflex agents- they act on the basis on the current percept and on the condition-action rule, which is if condition then action. It is used when the environment if fully observable
  2. Model-based reflex agents- they are used when the environment is partially observable. There is some kind of structure for the agent that is stored in itself for part of the environment that is not observable. It keeps track of the current state of the world using an internal mode.
  3. Goal-based agents- They store information that is only desirable and specific to the goal at hand.
  4. Utility-based agents- They distinguish goal states and non-goal states, measuring how desirable the results would be to the goal-state. The measure can be reached through a utility function.
  5. Learning agents- They operate in unknown environments and become knowledgeable of information they previously were not familiar with.


What can it do?

An Intelligent Agent gathers information or performs some other services without a person’s immediate presence and on some kind of schedule. This agent program uses the parameters a person provides and searches all or some part of the internet, gather’s significant information, and presents it to the person interested. A person can also program the agent to personalize information a website based on registration information and usage analysis. Other types of agents include specific site watchers that tell you the site has been updated, which is a type of push technology. There are endless tasks a person can program an artificial agent to do to make a person’s job easier.


How can a company use an Intelligent Agent to their advantage?

A company can use it for environmental scanning and competitive intelligence. An intelligent agent can learn the types of competitor information users want to track, continuously scan the Web for it, and alert users when a significant event occurs. Using an agent can be a competitive advantage for the company.