The World Wide Web has evolved drastically over the past decade -- and the proliferation of Web APIs has turned it into the middleware of choice for most distributed systems. The recent focus on hypermedia-driven APIs together with initiatives such as the Web of Things and Linked Data are now promoting and advancing the development of a new generation of dynamic, open, and long-lived systems on the Web. These systems require agent-based solutions to the point that Web researchers have started to build autonomous systems on their own. It is thus both timely and necessary to investigate and align the latest developments in Web research and multi-agent systems (MAS) research. In this paper, we analyze in hindsight the factors that hindered the widespread acceptance of early Web-based MAS. We argue that the answer lies equally in a lack of practical use cases as well as the premature development and alignment of Web and agent technologies. We then present our vision for a new generation of autonomous systems on the Web, which we call hypermedia MAS, together with the research opportunities and challenges they bring.
Andrei Ciortea, Simon Mayer, Fabien Gandon, Olivier Boissier, Alessandro Ricci, Antoine Zimmermann
5 Mar 2019