Henry Kautz, Bart Selman, Al Milewski
We propose an agent-based framework for assisting and simplifying person-to-person communication for information gathering tasks. As an example, we focus on locating experts for any specified topic. In our 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 email 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. Furthermore, preliminary experience with a group of users on a prototype system has shown that useful automatic referrals can be found in practice. Our experience with actual users has also shown that privacy concerns are central to the successful deployment of personal agents: an advanced agent-based system will therefore need to reason about issues involving trust and authority.