By the end of this year, expectations [1]  are that end users have somehow heard of, and therefore recognise, the term "agent(s)", even though they may not be able to give a (very rough) definition or description of it.
One year later, in 1997, it is expected that about a quarter of the then current PC/workstation user base consider "agents" to be personally helpful (although they may be referring to simple wizard-like agent-applications) and will say they (themselves) are using, or have once used, a product or service incorporating agents.

Agent-applications that are available are user-invoked interfaces that enable a dialogue with an agent, and agents that can produce reports that are generated by the agent itself at regular intervals or whenever necessary.

Agent-applications that are really used are those that can act as a personal assistant: they can effectively sort incoming mail and filter (electronically available) news articles that match a user's areas of interest.




Useful, but still rather limited, interface agents will be available which perform such roles as that of an eager assistant, a WWW guide, memory aid, WWW filter/critic, and which can deliver entertainment. User communication will be by such means as anthropomorphic agent user interfaces (which are expected to become available somewhere around 1998-1999), as

"people love having a social entity to help them with a task. People are willing to pay a premium today for something as simple as the social entities in Bob. People use computers to do many of the things above, and will feel much, much more comfortable with a social entity or character."
quote taken from [JANC95]

One out of every four users, by this time, will be so confident about agents, that he trusts his agent to navigate the network (Internet) to find candidate products for some purchase. In [JANC95] it is predicted by Delphi Process respondents that by the year 2000, these users may even trust their agent to make a purchase (although this probably won't go for such purchases as a new car or a new home). However, some of the respondents in this report were sure that users will never let an agent buy goods for them at all.

In the same report, it is predicted/expected that by the year 1999-2000, about 10% of the then current PC/workstation users will consider the following agent aspects to be "solved problems":
Ease of use;
Security;
Privacy;
Training and support;
Continuity (i.e. an initiator knows his agent traversed the network, and can rely on the reports of results).
About one year later, agent overload (i.e. an agent handles overload by modifying requests and/or ignoring some), will be added to this list.
By the same time, agents that can produce reports that are generated by the agent itself at regular intervals, or whenever needed [2], are really used. Also used a lot then (i.e. somewhere around the year 2000) is agent-empowered software that is as effective as a newspaper, in the ability to headline/set document length based on the expected article importance for the user.




How developments will continue in this period is rather uncertain, and because of that is hard to predict precisely.
What may be expected is a further increase of user's confidence in agents. In [JANC95], for instance, it is predicted that over ten years, a quarter of the then current PC/workstation user base will allow an/its agent to anticipate its needs/desires, find candidate products, and to make the purchase.

Agent-applications that will start to be used by large numbers of users, are anthropomorphic user interfaces (this is predicted to happen somewhere near the year 2001).

[1] Which can be found in [JANC95].
[2] For instance, by reporting automatically about certain events (e.g. a report about monthly sales figures).

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