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[absintelagent] Re: Defining "agent" -- the teleological view

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  • Adam M. GADOMSKI
    In the context of ... About Function, Goal and Agent In everyday practice we use the concept function in two notions. It is either mathematical function or a
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 1999
      In the context of

      At 20.53 28/09/99 -0400, Luke Kaven wrote:
      >Gary Noel Boone writes:
      >>It was fashionable in the 60s to try to explain curious features of
      >>animals by figuring out how these features were adaptive. What was the
      >>purpose of wings? Why, to fly, of co ...

      About Function, Goal and Agent

      In everyday practice we use the concept function in two notions.
      It is either mathematical function or a goal-oriented property of a thing.
      The last one depends on our practical application/use of the thing, it
      means it is not a physical property.
      From the engineering perspective, engineering system functions are
      internal and external.
      External results from the user requirements and are relations between the
      system and its environment, internals are consequence of technologies
      Using engineering point of view on human organizations we may say that they
      have functions because they have always a foundation goal.

      Pseudo-functions are properties of not engineering systems (living systems)
      which satisfy some pseudo-goals, for instance the integrity, survival, ...
      of the system.
      In practice, this operational assumption (metaphor) is so useful for the
      system diagnosis, modifications and so on, that if something continuously
      offers some "service" to the others, it is considered as the "real"
      definition of function, by many researchers.

      Goal, as a concept, exists only for intelligent agent. It is a state
      localized out site of the system in discourse.
      In general, goal and functions can be considered relative. If we assume
      that X is a goal for SS in the distinguished another system SE, then a
      property Y of SS necessary to achieve X, is a function. If we assume that
      Z is a goal for the integrated system SS+ SE, and X is
      the necessary property for this then X can be considered as a requested
      function of SS+ SE.
      In the above context we also have functional definitions.
      For instance, quasi all agent definitions are functional. They specify what
      agent does, but
      the goals are usually implicit.
      Usually, the function specifies only what system does/may do, but not how
      it is/will be

      'Agent' term is used to call certain software systems, cognitive systems,
      engineering and
      Of course in all these domains, every agent should have the same set of
      abstract properties.
      This aggregate of abstract common properties can be called 'abstract agent'.
      Not only in my opinion, if we intend to exclude all physical interactions
      between physical bodies, an agent must be goal-oriented, and as a
      consequence, it also has functions.

      Here, we need to distinguish design-goal and intervention-goal.
      A design-goals have every mechanical tool which we exclude from the
      denotation field of agent concept. Therefore, an agent should have
      intervention-goals and, in the behavioral perspective, goals should be
      dependent on circumstances, in the contrary, all software programs will be
      The problem is how in a simplest and sufficiently general manner to define
      a goal choice.

      As an intervention-goal is defined as a hypothetical state of the agent's
      domain of activity,
      every agent should have some more or less ordered "base" of the possible
      states of this domain, according to an utility/importance/... scale.
      I think that we may accept this, as an assumption for us and as a condition
      for an agent definition.
      A minimal ordering is done by the ordered couples, it could be the
      mathematical preference relation.
      From the preferences base results such concepts as desires, if we add
      concrete goals we may obtain intentions.

      - More information about the above conceptualization, and how it is going
      on, you can find on my home-pages.
      The next will be added in the near future, I hope.



      Adam Maria Gadomski Sr. research scientist
      Italian National Research Agency ENEA
      C.R.Casaccia,s.p.111 tel.+39-06-3048-3404 (-3504)
      00060 Rome fax.+39-06-3048 6511
      Home page: http://wwwerg.casaccia.enea.it/ing/tispi/gadomski/
      ENEA sites: http://www.enea.it, http://tisgi.casaccia.enea.it/
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