Introducing Autonomous Economic Agents (AEAs)

Nov 9, 2019

Introduction

At Fetch.ai we are working to create ‘ecostructures’ in which billions of devices in the Internet of Things can communicate seamlessly, autonomously and securely. Our Autonomous Economic Agents (AEAs) make this possible. They have the ability to conduct decentralized searches, negotiate and trade knowledge, and share predictions and value using a digital currency called the FET token. In the video below, we take a closer look at what AEAs are and what makes them unique.

Definitions

To understand what an Autonomous Economic Agent (AEA) is, we must first define our terminology.

Agent
“An agent is anything that can be viewed as perceiving its environment through sensors and acting upon that environment through effectors.”
Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig

In our context, agents act on behalf of someone or something else.

Economics
Economics is “the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interactions of economic agents and how economies work.”

Autonomy
By autonomy we mean “independent or self-governing”. In the context of an agent, this means it can act without constant interference from its owner.

AEA
An AEA is an intelligent agent operating on an owner’s behalf, with limited or no interference from that ownership entity, and whose goal is to generate economic value for its owner.

AEAs can be considered as a specific type of agent, with a focus on generating economic value. They have well defined goals such as:

  • buy x for me when it is cheapest
  • sell y for me to the highest bidder
  • if x happens make sure I get y done

What an AEA is not

However, it is important to remember that AEAs are not:

Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)
Our AEAs have a narrow goal with a directed focus that involves some economic gain.

An Application Program Interface (API)
APIs have no agency and are not separate economic entities.

Smart contracts
Smart contracts allow for credible transactions to occur without third parties on blockchains. Like APIs, they require user input in the form of transactions and are therefore not autonomous agents.

What makes AEAs special?

AEAs are focused on generating economic value. They do so through specialized software modules which we call skills.

AEAs autonomously acquire new skills, either through direct acquisition of software modules or shared learning. This capability is crucial.

For example, say an AEA has a goal to acquire concert tickets at the cheapest price and it already has the ‘negotiation’ skill needed to achieve this. As it searches for sellers, it may encounter another agent selling tickets via an auction. To participate, the AEA will autonomously learn the ‘auction’ skill, thus allowing it to achieve its goal without any additional interference from its owner.

A regular agent would be stuck, unable to participate in the auction, as it would have no way to acquire the new skill necessary to take part.

Who builds AEAs?

We are developing open source tools that will enable anyone to build AEAs. Some of the people who might build AEAs today are:

  • Data scientists
  • Machine Learning experts
  • Engineers
  • Economists
  • Web Developers

However, everyone can benefit from using AEAs and, as the agent development community grows in both the business and consumer space, there will be a vast marketplace of AEAs for anyone to access.

Markets and industries that may benefit

AEA technology will be at the forefront of the next industrial revolution, affecting numerous billion dollar industries such as:

  • Transportation and mobility
  • Finance
  • Supply chain
  • Energy trading
  • Social networks
  • Marketplaces and e-commerce

Impact on end consumers

AEA technology returns control of your life to you.

It enables you to own your personal data, so you can directly benefit from any information you choose to share. Fetch.ai’s technology will remove unnecessary intermediaries, reducing friction and costs for buyers and sellers.

AEAs take the stress out of modern life by making it easier to manage. They do this by reducing the need for constant human input and acting to deliver your personal requirements, returning your time to you.

Get involved

To learn more about AEAs and Fetch.ai’s technology, join our Telegram channel, our Developer Slack channel or visit our website to read more of our documentation.