Software Agents for Future Communication Systems

pp 207-219

Economic Agents for Automated Trading

  • Chris PreistAffiliated withAgent Technology Group, Hewlett Packard Labs

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Communications systems have always been central to commercial transactions. Introduction of the postal service, telegraph, telephone and fax have each changed the nature of business in their time. Now, with the advent of the World Wide Web, another dramatic change is underway. It has become possible to trade with organizations and individuals across the world at the click of a mouse. This trade doesn’t just take place between consumers and businesses — the bulk of it is between businesses. General Electric alone engages in Internet transactions with its suppliers worth over $1Bn a year — almost twice the total amount of consumer sales on the web (The Economist, May 10, 1997). By the year 2000, it aims to buy all its industrial supplies electronically (The Economist, Jan 17, 1998). Industry analysts expect more and more trade to take place in this way, as businesses wake up to the speed, flexibility and ease of global access the net offers.