Socially Competent Business Agents with Attitude - Using Habitus Field theory to Design Agents with Social Competence
CPM Report No.: 00-68
By: Michael Schillo,
Steve Allen, Klaus Fischer and
Date: 2nd May 2000
A Paper at: The "Starting from
Society" symposium at ASIB'2000
convention, Birmingham University, 16th-19th April 2000.
Also published as: Michael Schillo, Steve Allen, Klaus
Fischer and Christof Klein (2000), "Socially Competent Business Agents with
Attitude - Using Habitus Field theory to Design Agents with Social Competence",
in the Proceedings of the AISB'00 Symposium on Starting from Society - the
Application of Social Analogies to Computational Systems, Birmingham, UK: AISB,
93-100. (ISBN 1 902956 13 8)
We will argue that social competence is an emergent mental phenomenon, and as such, there is
no requirement to build
discrete "social" modules into an agent. In fact, we argue that there are definite advantages to
be gained from the emergent approach to social competence in complex, open, multi-agent
environments. In order to capitalise on these advantages we need to design socially competent
agents with the ability to reason on different levels (reactive, deliberative, meta) within complex
social situations. By analysing the sociological theory of Pierre Bourdieu, we describe the design
of a socially competent agent through the instantiation of a generic layered agent architecture.
Our instantiation provides a methodology for specifying heuristics and parameters for different
layers of such architectures. Furthermore, Bourdieu's habitus-field theory is hybrid in the sense
that it tries to explain the effect of individual behaviour on societal structures and vice versa.
This is where the great strength of the theory lies, and where we expect a useful
cross-fertilisation of ideas into AI to occur. For as much as space permits, we will illustrate our
argument with a scenario from the domain of shipping companies. This scenario is defined by its
openness, diversity of agents as well as tasks and time restrictions. Our work leads us to the
conclusion that building social agent architectures has definite engineering advantages,
underlining the importance of this concept for both MAS and DAI research.