Personal software agents versus the rise of the bots

Technology that works for the user instead of ceaselessly seeking to exploit the user...
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor

Back in the 1990s there was much talk about Software Agents -- autonomous software that would be running around the Internet, all working on behalf of the individual and not a corporation.

Today the Internet is awash with "bots" -- running around harvesting data and information on people, companies, products, and prices.

According to the latest report from Imperva Incapsula, nearly one-half of all Internet traffic is due to bots -- and these come in two varieties: good bots and bad bots.

The good bots are not necessarily "good," they are just the well behaved bots from Google, Yahoo etc, they identify themselves and will respond to site preferences.

The bad bots have many nefarious reasons to be in disguise, scraping and jiggling security systems looking for weak spots, placing phantom orders to gain insights into inventories, etc.

Imperva Incapsula reports that human produced traffic is barely in the majority at 51.5% of all Internet traffic. Bad bots are at 29% and good bots at 19.5%. Both kinds of bots work for someone else and are not your friend.

Personal software agents could be built from the same technologies and algorithms that commercial bots are made from. And they could be used to make commerce much more efficient.

Instead of a multitude of bots trying to gain a slight data edge on selling something to you-- personal bots would have the ability to tell the world what you want, when you want it, and more importantly when you decide.

No reason to be bombarded constantly by ads, for example. Personal bots would have the freshest, most accurate personal data and they would negotiate with commercial bots who can access that data.

Personal bots will look out for your interests constantly. Spotting price drops on cat litter, negotiating the price of a new car; warning you about weather events; reminding you about your mom's birthday and making it easy to send a gift; etc.

They will be much more than a great shopper they will also keep you up with the latest health news and any other information that can propel your career and improve every aspect of your life.

The digital assistants such as Siri and Google Now are good and getting better but they don't have autonomous capabilities or machine learning, and they don't work for you.

Maybe there's already a startup working on reviving the fine 1990s idea of software agents, made even more powerful with 20 years of progress in AI, machine learning technologies plus advances in commercial bots. Technology that works for its users.

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