Agents, Trust, and Information Access on the Semantic Web


Information systems are becoming increasingly important and ubiquitous in our lives -- for organizations, professionals, individuals and families. The process began with large centralized computers and greatly accelerated with the development of inexpensive personal computers and user friendly software systems. The slope increased with the rapid deployment of the Internet and corporate databases in the 80's and 90's and exploded with the unfolding of the Web in the past ten years. While it's hard to make predictions, many expect the trend to quicken with continued advances in mobile computing, ad hoc wireless networking, microelectronics, and nanotechnology. Imagine a world with billions of people and agents who interact daily with billions of computational devices, each of which is consuming and producing information and communicating with scores of other devices on a constant and largely autonomous basis. This evolution provides many new challenges to our ability to design and deliver information systems.

This paper describes our work in transforming the web from a “universal database” model to an active ecology of agents that produce, consume, and act on information (semi) autonomously. In particular, we focus on an immediate and critical problem which must be addressed to make progress -- our ability to maximize security, privacy, and trusted behavior in an environment which is fundamentally dynamic, open and devoid of many of the clues human societies have relied on for trust assessment. The approach is to explore the role that "semantic web" languages can play in addressing these problems.

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Special issue on Trust and Information Access on the Semantic Web

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