Slide 24 of 78
The demands placed on user interfaces vary dramatically from one system to another. Generally speaking, however, agent-based systems pose serious new challenges for user interfaces. In particular, for many systems, it is unrealistic to expect a user to comprehend the characteristics of the various agents and the division of labor between them, especially where communities of agents are dynamic.
There are a variety of general approaches to this problem. For example, a single specialized agent can be designated as the user’s point of contact; a small collection of agents can present relatively simple interfaces, made similar by a common theme; a mixed-initiative style of interaction can ease the user’s burden in constructing complex requests; the use of multimodality can allow the user to express requests at a high level, without having to be aware of any particular agent. This last approach, in combination with certain architectural elements, can also make it possible to treat the user as a privileged member of the agent community, thus lessening the conceptual gulf between human and software.
One of the most significant opportunities in this area is that multiple agents can sometimes be used to advantage in the implementation of a user interface; this will be illustrated later in the tutorial.