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Sci-Am scenario and RPP

From: Danny Ayers <danny@panlanka.net>
Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2001 10:05:00 +0600
To: "RDF-Interest" <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>
It's good to see the SW featuring in Scientific American, and it's great to
see the scenario described in terms that journalists for other publications
can understand - this was a really good bit of evangelism. Pat on the back
for all concerned.

It also gives me a nice context in which to suggest what role the RDF
Process Profile (RPP) proposed at [1] could play.

The idea behind RPP is that processes will have descriptive metadata. To
quote the piece : "Their agents would have delegated the task in piecemeal
fashion to other services and agents discovered through service

I'm suggesting that the identification of services and agents is a job that
can be done in the domain of metadata, using RDF and a technique such as

Anyway, here's the scenario, with parts in which RPP could play a role in
pointy brackets :
The entertainment system was belting out the Beatles' "We Can Work It Out"
when the phone rang. When Pete answered, his phone turned the sound down by
sending a message to all the other local devices that had a volume control.
<How did the phone know which local devices had a volume control?> His
sister, Lucy, was on the line from the doctor's office: "Mom needs to see a
specialist and then has to have a series of physical therapy sessions.
Biweekly or something. I'm going to have my agent set up the appointments."
Pete immediately agreed to share the chauffeuring.
At the doctor's office, Lucy instructed her Semantic Web agent through her
handheld Web browser <how did the browser locate the agent?>. The agent
promptly retrieved information about Mom's prescribed treatment from the
doctor's agent <how did Lucy's agent know about the doctor's agent, and that
it could provide prescription information?> ...looked up several lists of
providers, and checked for the ones in-plan for Mom's insurance within a
20-mile radius of her home and with a rating of excellent or very good on
trusted rating services <how were the ratings services found/selected?>. It
then began trying to find a match between available appointment times
(supplied by the agents of individual providers through their Web sites <how
did it know which of the provider's agents to communicate with?>) and Pete's
and Lucy's busy schedules.

There are some other lines in the piece that are in my opinion begging for
RDF Process Profiles :
"These initiatives, however, attack the problem at a structural or syntactic
level and rely heavily on standardization of a predetermined set of
functionality descriptions. Standardization can only go so far, because we
can't anticipate all possible future needs."

This seems to suggest that standardization can go far enough to describe
resources such as 'addresses', 'ratings', 'trust' and so on, but for some
reason the use of  metadata can't extend to agents. I don't think this stuff
needs to be delegated to the hands of the agent/engine designers. Another
quote :

"Semantics also makes it easier to take advantage of a service that only
partially matches a request."
Exactly (!!!), and what is it that needs matching? Services, which are one
set of instances of processes that can be described using RPP. The request
will contain features that can be compared with the RPP profile of avaliable
services and an appropriate match found.

A little more from the article :
"A typical process will involve the creation of a "value chain" in which
subassemblies of information are passed from one agent to another, each one
"adding value," to construct the final product requested by the end user.
Make no mistake: to create complicated value chains automatically on demand,
some agents will exploit artificial-intelligence technologies in addition to
the Semantic Web. But the Semantic Web will provide the foundations and the
framework to make such technologies more feasible."

Fine. But there's an awful lot that can be done in terms of providing
metadata for (and in this case *about*) the agents that can make these
subassemblies of information more useful.

BTW, the piece has also made me realise an important piece of the RPP jigsaw
I was missing - agent ownership. Ok, another property to go in...

[1] http://www.isacat.net/citnames/2001/04/rpp.htm

Danny Ayers
Received on Friday, 13 April 2001 00:08:43 UTC

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