An Intelligent Agent in AI is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions to achieve its goals. It is equipped with decision-making abilities and response towards changes, leveraging AI techniques for problem-solving and learning.
Think of an Intelligent Agent like a smart robot. This robot observes what’s happening around it, just like you notice things with your senses. Based on what it sees, it decides on what to do next so it can achieve its goal, like scoring points in a game.
In the AI context, an Intelligent Agent (IA) is a computational system that learns and makes decisions autonomously to reach a specific purpose or a set of objectives. To accomplish this, the IA operates by perceiving its environment through sensors (input data), and it impacts that environment via actuators (output actions).
An important part of an IA is the agent function. This function maps from perceptual history to actions, keeping a chronological record of all it perceives and the actions it takes based on that perception.
IAs are conceived from the philosophy that intelligence is not only about individual processing or isolated thought, but rather about interactive behaviors that display adaptivity and improve tasks’ effectiveness. As such, learning and problem-solving are key aspects, enabling agents to generalize from past experiences and improve their performance.
There are several types of intelligent agents: simple reflex agents that act only based on the current percept, model-based reflex agents that maintain some kind of internal model of the world, goal-based agents which act in order to achieve given goal, utility-based agents which try to maximize a user-specified utility function, and learning agents which can learn from their experience.
An essential application of Intelligent Agents is in Multi-Agent Systems (MAS), where multiple agents interact and collaborate to solve issues that are challenging or impossible to resolve by an individual agent. These systems are fundamental in a variety of AI applications, ranging from game design to distributed problem solving.
However, one of the challenges in developing Intelligent Agents and particularly MAS is ensuring that the agents’ decision-making remains transparent and their behaviors can be controlled, considering potential ethical implications regarding AI autonomy and decision-making.