Beyond the Elves: Making Intelligent Agents Intelligent

Craig Knoblock

The goal of the Electric Elves project at the University of Southern California (USC) was to develop software agents to support human organizations. The project was quite successful with very impressive prototypes and many papers on the research. In fact, DARPA, which funded the project, was so enthusiastic about the results that they asked us to deploy a version of the Elves for use at DARPA. The original application of the Elves deployed at USC was for the office environment (called the Offices Elves) and required detailed information about the calendars of people using the system. Deploying this application at DARPA raised a host of issues including privacy and access to internal services. Thus, we decided to deploy a new application of the Electric Elves, called the Travel Elves. This application appeared to be ideal for wider deployment since it could be hosted entirely outside an organization and communication could be performed via wireless devices, such as cell phones.

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