The current two layer structure of the Internet (one layer for the demand side/users, and one layer for the supply side/suppliers) is getting more and more dissatisfactory. For tasks, such as an information search, tools like search engines have been created to circumvent many of the problems (and inefficiencies) that arise from this structure. However, search engines will only do as a short-term compromise. In the medium and long term, they will become increasingly insufficient and incapable to deal with future user and supplier needs and demands.

A very promising solution for the whole situation is to add a third, intermediary layer to the structure of the Internet. This will enhance and improve the functionality of the Internet in many ways.
Per layer, agents can be employed that can offer just the functionality that each layer needs. The main task of the middle layer is to make sure that agents and persons from different layers can communicate and co-operate without any problems.
It is not clear at this moment how many parties will be offering these services, and who exactly those parties will be. It may be expected that there will be quite a lot of parties (such as publishers and commercial information brokers) that will want to offer these services. (Internet) Users will not think too deeply about these two questions: they will want a service that delivers the best and quickest results, against the lowest possible costs. The one that is best at matching these needs, will be the one they use.

The three layer model is a very powerful and versatile application for the agent-technique; although individual agents can offer many things, they can offer and do so much more when employed/combined in this way. However, before we can really use the model, quite some things will need to be settled, decided and developed: a number of standards, a solid (universal) agent communication language, etcetera.



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"Intelligent Software Agents on the Internet" - by Björn Hermans