ESWC2013 workshop
May 26, 2013

Services and Applications over Linked APIs and Data


Autonomous Agents on the Web: Beyond Linking and Meaning

by Mike Amundsen, Principal API Architect for Layer 7 Technologies

View the slides of Mike’s keynote.

[Photo of Mike Amundsen]

Over the last 25 years, a rich ecosystem has been established for the human-driven Web. Successful protocols (HTTP), languages (HTML), and supporting services (DNS, etc.) all contribute to a vast and lively World Wide Web. Today it is relatively trivial to design and implement a Web-based solution. In some cases this can be done without any programming at all - just a bit of “glue” between existing services on the Web.

But the machine-driven Web is not yet as facile. Most machine to machine interactions are still built as one-off affairs. Yes, there are isolated cases where devices can “talk to each other” using limited protocols within a closed space (e.g. utility sensors, home security, etc.) but, despite the fact that we have spent decades working on “the machine problem”, wide­spread, serendipitous, ad-hoc machine communications eludes us. Why?

This talk offers a view that our lack of success in realizing the autonomous machine Web is rooted in our overwhelming success in the human-driven Web. We were too successful! By attempting to imitate the languages and protocols of the human Web we are hampering our development of the machine Web. Instead of trying to make machines “smarter” we need to change the properties and behaviors of the network with which machines communicate.

Our goal should be to create a “world” in which machines speak machine languages over machine-friendly protocols. Where meaning is not as important as identity; Linking is not as important as data transfer; and human understanding is not as important as machine interpretation.

A machine-centered Web is possible today, the evidence is all around us. We only need to shift our gaze, alter our expectations, and change the way we communicate with the machines in our lives.