Future of Adaptive Agents

The Future for Intelligent Simulation Models is an article from the Edge newslettre published by the MITRE organazation, a think tank that works on technology and the military.

The author, Gary Klein, outlines the history of agent based analysis and the object oriented based approaches that began to be adopted in the 1980s. The most recent developments are to add adaptive intelligence to the agents to allow them to change their strategies over time.

Adaptive Agent Simulation Modeling-Recently, MITRE has begun making these agents even smarter by providing them with methods that allow them to perceive the results of their actions and then to modify their behaviors to improve their performance in achieving their goal-state. They are now capable of learning to go beyond their initial programming. A widely accepted term for these agents hasn’t yet been coined. The term “intelligent agent” has sometimes been used, but it has also been used interchangeably with “autonomous agent”. For the purposes of this article, we will call these new classes “adaptive agents” to distinguish them from the others.

This powerful new paradigm allows us to examine systematically how behaviors of adaptive individuals affect the evolution of the individuals and consequently of a society. If we simulate two societies with competing goals we can examine how they co-evolve. If we place adaptive agents on a simulated battlefield, then we have a simulated wargame where the parties are capable of adapting to their environment and to each other. This is how we developed the simulated cyberwargame described at the beginning of this article. Collaborative groups of these agents may form an organization, or (as in Minsky’s The Society of Mind, 1988) a single mind of a decision maker.

The nod to Marvin Minsky coincides with my developing notions of connecting agents to human beings as an augmentation of our capabilities, not necessarily a replacement.