Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Computer Science and Engineering


In a startling revelation, a team of university scientists has reported that a network of computers has become conscious and sentient, and is beginning to assume control of online information system. In spite of the ominous tone typically chosen for dramatic effect, a sentient Web would be more helpful and much easier for people to use. An agent is an active, persistent software component that perceives, reasons, and acts, and whose actions include communication. Agents inherently take intentional actions based on sensory information and memories of past actions. All agents have necessary communication ability, but they do not necessarily possess introspective capabilities or awareness of place and time. Four things characterize being sentient Web conscious: 1) knowing 2) having intentions 3) introspecting and 4) experiencing phenomena. For the first two, it is easy to show that most Web entities possess and demonstrate the use of knowledge, and other entities, including Web services, exhibit intentions. The last two, introspection and phenomenal experience, are facets of awareness and are not as obvious in current Web systems, so we will consider them more thoroughly and conclude with future prospects.


© 2003 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)