Electric Elves: Applying Agent Technology to Support Human Organizations

Hans Chalupsky, Yolanda Gil, Craig A. Knoblock, Kristina Lerman, Jean Oh, David V. Pynadath, Thomas A. Russ, Milind Tambe

The operation of a human organization requires dozens of everyday tasks to ensure coherence in organizational activities, to monitor the status of such activities, to gather information relevant to the organization, to keep everyone in the organization informed, etc. Teams of software agents can aid humans in accomplishing these tasks, facilitating the organization’s coherent functioning and rapid response to crises, while reducing the burden on humans. Based on this vision, this paper reports on Electric Elves, a system that has been operational, 24/7, at our research institute since June 1, 2000. Tied to individual user workstations, fax machines, voice, mobile devices such as cell phones and palm pilots, Electric Elves has assisted us in routine tasks, such as rescheduling meetings, selecting presenters for research meetings, tracking people’s locations, organizing lunch meetings, etc. We discuss the underlying AI technologies that led to the success of Electric Elves, including technologies devoted to agenthuman interactions, agent coordination, accessing multiple heterogeneous information sources, dynamic assignment of organizational tasks, and deriving information about organization members. We also report the results of deploying Electric Elves in our own research organization.

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