"The currently dominant computer interaction metaphor of direct manipulation requires the user to initiate all tasks explicitly and to monitor all events.

Techniques from the field of Artificial Intelligence, in particular so-called 'autonomous agents', can be used to implement a complementary style of interaction, which has been referred to as indirect management. Instead of user-initiated interaction via commands and/or direct manipulation, the user is engaged in a cooperative process in which human and computer agents both initiate communication, monitor events and perform tasks. The metaphor used is that of a personal assistant who is collaborating with the user in the same work environment.

Even though the results obtained with this first generation of agents are encouraging, many open questions for future research remain: How can we guarantee the user's privacy, especially if agents communicate with one another about their users? How can heterogeneous agents, built by different developers and using different techniques, collaborate? Most importantly, from a legal standpoint, should a user be held responsible for his or her agents' actions and transactions?"

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