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Newsletter April 09, 2001
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And Man created intelligent agents

The world of intelligent agents is seeing very rapid growth in the number of people using agents, the number of agents under development and their potential applications. Even the scientific community is becoming more and more interested in this type of tool, providing them with evolved artificial intelligence for applications which to this day remain experimental.

Thus researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT*) were the first to move into the field of intelligent agent research. Whether in the form of computer software or mechanical robots, their experiments are mainly focused on Artificial Intelligence. Equally, other laboratories have set up their own programs in this area. Communication between agents, agent applications, interaction with end-users are only some of the themes being covered.

As proof of this creative effervescence, two new projects have recently got underway. The first, at Manchester Metropolitan University, deals with the security issues of intelligent agents; the second, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, is focused on electronic commerce and the use of agents for exchanging information. Two new projects from the realm of science.

So what do the scientists have in store for us? Agents which are "more" intelligent? More easily understandable? More autonomous? Will the experiments underway lead one day to the perfect companion who will be there to help and serve us, amuse and even 'understand' us ?

One thing is for sure, that this is only the beginningÖ

(*) MIT :

The next edition of the newsletter will appear on Tuesday 17th.


N E W   A G E N T S

>> File sharing <<

> iAssimilator
iAssimilator allows you to easily share with other users on the Internet any type of file such as MP3, pictures, games or documents. iAssimilator uses a mix of proprietary and standard web technologies, including an integrated Windows based browser that allows you to open and easily navigate up to ten Web Sites at once, a standard HTML Web Server that allows you to host your own web page on your computer, and Instant Messaging and Chat.

> Tijit Pro
Tijit Pro is a Peer-to-Peer alternative to the Virtual Private Network (VPN), which allows you to transfer files much like you can do with Windows Network Neighborhood. This lets you conduct virtual meetings, telecommute, or work on files simultaneously across the network in real time. With Tijit , the network is very easy to setup and requires little to no maintenance. Files of any size can be transferred between computers, different levels of encryption security can be chosen, and peers can also instant message and chat at the same time.

>> Metabrowsers <<

> Octopus
Octopus assembles disparate information from various Web sites in real time and presents it in one dynamic browser page, called a View. Octopus provides a Directory that organizes Views according to categories. Use it to find Views on a wide range of topics, from job search and career resources to comparing financial information on Global 2000 companies.

>> Monitoring agents <<

> BizAgent
BizAgent helps you manage your investments and business interests. Using your Internet connection, BizAgent resides in your Windows tray and tracks the stocks of companies you need to follow. BizAgent alerts you by email or the "You Have News" audio cue whenever companies make news, bringing you key information right when you need it.

>> Weather <<

> WeatherAloud
WeatherAloud is the talking software that reads you weather forecasts and conditions aloud from over 7500 locations worldwide. It's like having a personal weatherman at your service. You can build a personal list of forecasts that interest you, customize each one to meet your needs, and program WeatherAloud to get automatic weather updates from around the world.

>> Avatars <<

> Digimask
From two simple photographs of the face the Digimask system creates a 360-degree model of a person's head, which will allow a fully animatable 3-D replica of the user's head to be displayed on a computer or TV screen. Digimask promises a new era of interactivity and user involvement for games, the Internet and mobile communications.

>> Wireless agents <<

> Voice Controlled Messaging
Based on speech recognition technology, VCM frees wireless and wireline subscribers from their telephone keypad, enabling them to control service functions with simple spoken commands.
VCM enables subscribers to perform a wide range of mailbox functions by speaking simple word commands, such as "Listen" to retrieve a message, "Send" or "Send email" to send a voice message or email to another subscriber, "Delete" to delete a message from the mailbox and "Call Return".

A G E N T  U P D A T E S

>> Web position <<

> AgentWebRanking
The 2.03SP2 version to update AgentWebRanking Suite is available. This free program enables webmasters to monitor and improve their search engine rankings, to submit their website, and to search the search engines.

>> Virtual Pets <<

> NeoPets
NeoPets, the fun virtual pet site has added 8 more pets to the Tyrannian Pet Pet Shop, including the Krawk, Scado, Gathow and of course... Pet Rock. In Neopets, you can create your own pets, feed them, groom them, look after them and watch them grow. You can also chat to other people, play games, create your own webpages, send NeoMail...

>> Mail agents <<

> @nyMail
The new version of @nyMail, the software that checks your web-based email for you, is available. Minor updates have been made. Previously, @nyMail had problems accessing Netaddress, Netscape Webmail, LycosMail and AngelFire since they have changed. The new release resolves such problems.

>> File sharing <<

> SongSpy
SongSpy, the music sharing program, has been updated. Many new features have been added to the program such as the resume transfer option, the new MP3 player engine and the download/upload meters. The new version benefits from a better download reliability.


At regular intervals, AgentLand invites experts to express their views. This section offers an enlightened vision of current technological changes and explores the possible futures.
Two new articles from our Experts are available on AgentLand:

> "Oliver and Sarah: Intelligent Agents" by JoŽl de Rosnay
Biotic interfaces imply relationships with electronic machines that are, to varying degrees, invasive. Of course, ubiquitous, lightweight biosensors that are no more cumbersome than a wristwatch or eyeglasses will be used for the most common applications. But there will still be a need for additional specific equipment. Hence the importance of the new "humanized" interfaces with computers and networks - "intelligent agents,"...

> "The role of intelligent agents" by Carlo Revelli.
Contrary to generally accepted thought, intelligent agents are not a recent innovation. In fact, they are an old phenomenon that comes into fashion at regular intervals.
The ancestor of all agents is named Eliza, who has her origin well before the Internet explosion. Eliza was born in 1966 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)...

________________/ COMMUNITY \__________________
_     Express your views on intelligent agents!
_     Visit the AgentLand community village:


> VirtuaGuy
VirtuaGuy is a handsome guy living on your desktop. He walks catlike, exercises, tans, rides a motorbike and does stripteases in the bottom corner of your screen. He will remind you of your appointments.


> The ElComAg project: Electronic Commercial Agents
The ElComAg (Electronic Commercial Agents) project at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology is focused on facilities for trading of knowledge by electronic commerce, including conceptual modeling of knowledge and trading process, the design of sale-sites (electronic marketplaces), the design of agents for serving the trade process and information system architecture for knowledge trade. It is financed by the Norwegian Research Foundation in the framework of the Distributed Information Technology Systems program.

> STRABIA Project: Secure TRAnsaction Between Intelligent Agents
STRABIA - Secure TRAnsaction Between Intelligent Agents - is a project at the Department of Computing and Mathematics at the Manchester Metropolitan University, U.K. It focuses on the security concerns of agent ensembles, approaches to protecting an execution environment against malicious mobile agents, approaches to protecting an agent from malicious execution environments and the key features required to achieve a secured transaction between agents.

> The RS-01 RoboDog
The RS-01 RoboDog is a four-legged robot dog that has a wide range of 'senses' that allow it to interact safely with the world. Its senses allow it to balance, give it a sense of position and give it hearing and sight. In autonomous mode, the RS-01 will think and act for itself without the need for human intervention. In Explorer mode, the owner can take control of the RoboDog via voice command or remotely from their PC via a wireless link. An on-board camera allows the owner to log into the robot via the net and drive it around its environment, seeing through its eyes, hearing through its ears and so on. It is intended to perform useful tasks as well as just being fun.

> Poseidon
The Poseidon system keeps watch through a network of underwater and overhead video cameras. Artificial Intelligence software analyses the images to work out swimmers' trajectories.
When a swimmer sinks towards the bottom of the pool, the new system sends an alarm signal to a poolside monitoring station and a lifeguard's pager. In trials at a pool in Ancenis, near Nantes (France), it saved a life within just a few months, says Alistair McQuade, a spokesman for its maker, Poseidon Technologies.

> Coyote Gulch
The online home of Scott Robert Ladd. By creating models of life, it may be possible to discern what it is that separates "alive" from "not alive." LifeBox is a tool for exploring and inventing cellular automata. A cellular automata is a one-, two- or three-dimensional matrix of cells, with each cell representing an independent automaton that reacts to the state of its neighbors. The applet lets you experiment with a variety of 2D cellular automata types. Lifebox is available as Open Source for your personal experiments.


> Peer-to-Peer Working Group
The Peer-to-Peer Working Group is a consortium for advancement of infrastructure best known practices for peer-to-peer computing. The working group will determine areas for standardization, rapidly develop specifications, and promote adoption of these specifications as best known practices throughout the computer industry. Participation is open to anyone interested in peer-to-peer computing.


> Peer-to-Peer Networking Conference
The Peer-to-Peer Networking Conference will be held on April 23-24 2001 at Swissotel, Boston, USA. The topics will be around defining peer-to-peer technology, implementation tactics and management responsibilities, the return on investment of peer-to-peer technology and the benefits to organizations, managing security and infrastructure changes with P2P, exploring next-generation peer-to-peer applications and how peer-to-peer technology will enable companies to intelligently manage and optimize any business process across their entire organization.

> International Workshop on Smart Appliances and Wearable Computing (IWSAWC)
The International Workshop on Smart Appliances and Wearable Computing (IWSAWC) In conjunction with Int'l Conf. on Distributed Computing Systems 2001, will be held on April 16, 2001 at Phoenix (Mesa), Arizona, USA. The topics will be around home networks and applications, frameworks for smart appliances, computing and communications for smart appliances and wearable computing.

> TIA 2001: Terminology & Artificial Intelligence
The International Workshop on Smart Appliances and Wearable Computing (IWSAWC) In conjunction with Int'l Conf. on Distributed Computing Systems 2001, will be held on April 16, 2001 at Phoenix (Mesa), Arizona, USA. The topics will be around home networks and applications, frameworks for smart appliances, computing and communications for smart appliances and wearable computing.


> 2001 P2P Industry Overview: An O'Reilly Research Report
By Dr. Jon Orwant, 05/2001, 150pp
The 2001 P2P Industry Overview is a comprehensive look at peer-to-peer from business and technical perspectives. It describes the state of the industry and offer opinions, with hard data to back them up, about where it's going to go next. These opinions are augmented with O'Reilly Research's statistical and computational techniques tailored for modeling, condensing, summarizing, and forecasting trends in software development. The report will be published in May 2001.

> Peer-to-Peer: Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies
Edited by Andy Oram, 03/2001, 448pp
The term "peer-to-peer" has come to be applied to networks that expect end users to contribute their own files, computing time, or other resources to some shared project. This book presents the goals that drive the developers of the best-known peer-to-peer systems, the problems they've faced, and the technical solutions they've found. The contributors are leading developers of well-known peer-to-peer systems.

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