Virtual Mattie--an Intelligent Clerical Agent

S. Franklin, A. Graesser, B. Olde, H. Song, and A. Negatu

One important role for autonomous agents is to assume tasks previously performed by humans. Such tasks often require communication with humans, and the coordination of multiple activities. What sort of agent architecture will empower an agent to collaborate with humans in the process of autonomously carrying out an every day clerical task? What if this task requires the coordination of several different activities, including the composition of simple documents? Here we propose such an architecture and include a preliminary report on its first implementation. This architecture enables a softbot, Virtual Mattie, to actively gather information from humans, compose announcements of next week’s seminars, and mail them each week to a list that she keeps updated, all without the supervision of a human. VMattie’s architecture combines Maes’ behavior net architecture and Hofstadter and Mitchell’s Copycat architecture and significantly extends them. "'Living" in a UNIX environment, VMattie’s communication with humans is entirely via email with no agreed upon protocol. Thus natural language processing in a narrow domain is required. She also warns seminar organizers of impending time or place conflicts. In future versions, VMattie will learn the habits of organizers in order to more effectively dun them for information. With her low level operations based entirely on codelets, VMattie can also be viewed as a multiagent system. The implementation is in Java and Perl. VMattie is also an interdisciplinary project, leaning heavily on a psychological analysis of a corpus of the real Mattie’s messages as a basis for natural language understanding.


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